Judges reject Plymouth burglar's appeal against sentence
A PERSISTENT burglar who stole from the home of a vulnerable couple within hours of being released on bail has been told he cannot complain about his jail term.
Dale Chown, pictured right, was jailed for three years and four months at Plymouth Crown Court in May after admitting burglary, theft and possession of amphetamine and diazepam.
The 23-year-old this week challenged his sentence at London's Criminal Appeal Court, his lawyers arguing it was "too long" due to his willingness to turn over a new leaf.
But Chown's appeal was dismissed by top judges, who said the term was "not excessive", given his bad criminal record and the serious nature of the raid.
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The court heard Chown and an accomplice went into the house in Kelly Close, St Budeaux, at about 6pm on April 16 while the couple – in their mid-60s and in poor health – were in their living room.
The victims heard the front door open and someone go upstairs, and assumed it was their grandson who lived with them and who knew Chown.
But an accomplice then walked into the living room and said: "I've come to see you", while Chown stole video games from the grandson's bedroom.
Both men then left and were spotted soon afterwards by the couple's grandson in Furse Park, Barne Barton, stuffing the stolen games into their tracksuits.
The grandson then returned home to find games worth £120 had been stolen from his bedroom, the court heard.
Chown was arrested a short while later and found in possession of a small amount of amphetamine and diazepam.
The court heard this was his fourth burglary offence and the sentencing judge said he had to hand him a stiff jail term to protect the public from him.
His probation officer said he had got clean and stayed out of trouble for a while following his previous release from prison, but contacted her to say he had lapsed and was under pressure to pay a drug debt.
Following this revelation, the officer had a meeting with him and he admitted some petty crimes to the police.
But the court heard how Chown, of no fixed address, committed the burglary in question just hours after being released on bail.
His lawyers argued the sentence was over the top, telling Appeal Court judges Chown was now off drugs, had become a father, and was determined to mend his ways.
His solicitor advocate, Pamela Calder, said: "Of course he has to have a custodial sentence, that goes without saying and he accepts that.
"But I would ask your lordships that you consider reducing his sentence, so that he is able to start afresh, push that reset button and regain the good progress that he made before his spiral down into re-offending."
However, dismissing the appeal, Mr Justice Holroyde said the sentence was "not excessive" in light of Chown's history of offending.
The judge, sitting with Lord Justice Aikens and Judge Peter Rook QC, added: "Plainly this case is yet another example of the damage caused by the abuse of drugs.
"We commend the efforts which the appellant clearly did make to remain drug free following his release from his previous sentence, and we commend his frankness in admitting his lapse and his re-offending.
"We cannot, however, accept the submissions that his personal mitigation was so strong as to make it unjust to impose this sentence.
"This was his fourth offence of burglary, committed whilst on police bail and indeed, it must be said, within hours of being granted bail.
"It was an offence which must have caused great distress to the vulnerable victims, whose home was entered – it was therefore a serious offence."