Prolific Plymouth burglar is jailed for 18 months
A PROLIFIC offender who burgled three homes has been jailed for 18 months.
Martin Cotton, 39, pictured right, walked past a German shepherd dog to steal more than £400 in charity cash from one address, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
Cotton, with more than 50 previous convictions, burgled the homes after he relapsed into taking heroin and Valium.
Judge Jeremy Griggs said he would be "failing in his public duty" if he did not send Cotton to jail.
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He said: "You have a bad record and I have no doubt the majority of your offending is drug-related."
Cotton, of Whittington Street, Stoke, admitted burglary of a home on December 18 and asked for two other similar offences to be taken into consideration.
He also admitted breach of a conditional discharge for attempted theft from a motor vehicle.
Sally Daulton, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Mike Gallagher, chairman of the Friends of Devonport Park, left his home in Granby Street at about 5pm on December 14.
She said he left the door unlocked so a neighbour could walk his German shepherd dog.
Mrs Daulton added the neighbour came to fetch the pet at about 9.45pm but heard a noise upstairs.
He shouted out and then saw Cotton run down the stairs carrying a bag.
The court heard he dropped the bag but escaped with £405 belonging to the Friends of Devonport Park, which had been in money boxes.
Mrs Daulton said police lifted fingerprints and matched them to Cotton.
She added that the dog had appeared calm when the neighbour came around and was apparently undisturbed by the burglar.
Mrs Daulton said Cotton had stolen £340 in cash in one burglary and £40 in another, in November and December last year.
Piers Norsworthy, for Cotton, said the father-of-two had been seeing a marriage guidance counsellor at the time of the offences.
He said: "He fell in with the wrong group of people and began taking heroin and Valium. He thought he had put that behind him."
Mr Norsworthy urged the judge to impose an order to tackle his drug addiction.