"What do you mean?": Burglar too drunk to understand homeowner's question about why he was breaking in

A mechanic was so drunk when a homeowner challenged him about why he was breaking into his Castleford property he responded by asking: "What do you mean?"

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 4:03 pm

Peter James Thornton had downed a bottle of vodka after his six-year relationship ended and inexplicably broke into the property on Whitwood Common Lane, Leeds Crown Court was told.

The owner had arrived home at around 10.40pm on November 15, walked around the back and found Thornton leaning inside the kitchen window.

The kitchen blinds had been pulled out and were left on the floor in the back garden.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Thornton was caught breaking into a property on Whitwood Common Lane.

Prosecuting, Elizabeth Noble said the owner confronted Thornton and said: "What the f*** are you playing at?"

Thornton, 38, then responded with his puzzled reply.

The shocked owner, who thought Thornton was holding a knife which later turned out to be a silver phone case, left the property and called the police, who picked up the defendant a short time later.

The police said he was clearly under the influence of either drink or drugs.

CCTV from a neighbouring property showed Thornton was in the garden for more than 90 minutes. A half-drunk bottle of tonic water found at the scene also contained his finger prints.

He gave a largely 'no-comment' interview to police, but admitted a charge of burglary when he later appeared at the magistrates' court for a preliminary hearing.

The court was told that Thornton has eight convictions for 11 offences, but had stayed out of trouble since 2012.

Mitigating, Satpal Roth-Sharma said that Thornton, of Penrith Crescent, Castleford, had just split from his partner and had downed the litre-bottle of spirits.

That night he had been staying at his mother's address, but his sister arrived and asked him to leave and he found himself in the garden of the property without an explanation.

Miss Roth-Sharma, who said Thornton worked as a mechanic, said: "He is absolutely embarrassed to find himself in this situation.

"He is not a burglar and has no need to burgle properties but he was not thinking straight at the time of the offence.

"He is genuinely full of remorse and regret."

A probation report suggested that Thornton would turn to strong alcoholic drinks in "difficult situations", such as the break up with his partner.

Judge Tom Bayliss QC responded by telling Thornton: "Even though you won't admit it you have a terrible drink problem, it's drink that's caused you to behave in that way.

"It's still a burglary and the effect is quite significant. Every burglary is an invasion of people's space, and those who commit burglaries must take the consequences."

However, he said there were factors that would allow him to draw back from a custodial sentence.

Thornton was given a 12-month jail term, suspended for two years, ordered him to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and pay £500 compensation to the victim.