'The lad has got no principles': Former Wakefield mayor blasts burglar who broke into his cottage and stole valuable gold watches

A burglar broke into the home of a former Wakefield mayor and stole a valuable gold watch given to him to commemorate service to the community.

Tuesday, 31st August 2021, 6:12 pm

Laurie Harrison, who served as a district councillor for 40 years, was left devastated after being targeted by callous Scott Bartrop.

Bartrop has been jailed for 27 months over the break-in at the 86-year-old widower's home in South Kirkby.

After Bartrop was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court, Mr Harrison said: "I don't think it is long enough. The lad clearly has no principles."

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Mr Harrison is a former mayor of Wakefield.

At the sentencing hearing, Ayman Khokhar, prosecuting, said the burglary took place on July 25 this year at Mr Harrison's cottage.

Mr Harrison had left his home locked and secured in the afternoon but when he returned in the evening he noticed that three gold watches, which he had left on the kitchen table, were missing.

The prosecutor said one of the watches was of sentimental value as it had been given to him to commemorate his service as the Mayor of Wakefield.

Another watch was an engraved Rolex which had been left to him by a lifelong friend and was also of great sentimental and financial value.

Scott Bartrop was given 27 months' jail.

Mr Khokhar said Mr Harrison had left the watches on the table as he planned to replace batteries.

The victim fell asleep downstairs later in the evening but was awoken by the sound of footsteps .

Mr Harrison went to investigate and he was halfway up the stairs when he saw Bartop coming out of a room.

Former district and town councillor Laurie Harrison was grieving over the death of his wife, Sylvia, when he was burgled last month.

The defendant barged past Mr Harrison before climbing through the kitchen window to escape.

Mr Harrison then discovered that a silver pocket watch was also missing from his bedside drawer.

Bartrop also stole two mobile phones from the bedroom.

The 35-year-old was identified as the suspect after his fingerprints were found on the window frame.

A Nike Air Max trainer footprint was also recovered from the crime scene.

Mr Khokhar said Bartrop was wearing a pair of Nike Air Max trainers with the same foot pattern when he was arrested.

Bartrop, of Kings Croft, Pontefract, refused to comment when he was interviewed.

He pleaded guilty to burglary.

The court heard he has nine previous convictions including for an offence of assault.

Natalie Banks, mitigating, said Bartrop pleaded guilty to the offence at an early stage.

Ms Banks said Bartrop is an alcoholic and was homeless at the time he committed the offence to fund his addiction.

Sentencing, The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC, said: "The victim seems to be a relatively high-profile person in the area.

"You went into his house twice and stole mobile phones and some watches, two of which had considerable sentimental value.

"He was vulnerable. On the second occasion there was a confrontation."

Mr Harrison spent four decades helping his local community after he was first elected as a district councillor for South Elmsall and South Kirkby in 1974.

He also served for many years as leader of South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council.

After the case, Mr Harrison said: "I don't think 27 months was a long enough sentence for what he put me through.

"It has left me feeling very sad. He has taken heirlooms which were very special and I doubt I will ever get them back."

The grandfather said the burglary happened just four months after the death of his wife Sylvia.

He added: "I was shocked when he came barging past me on the stairs.

"I shouted at him to come back but I was stupid to think he would. The lad has clearly got no principles."