Young burglar spared jail because of mother's death

A young thief who went on a burgling spree in Ossett after his mother died in his arms has been spared custody.

By Nick Frame
Monday, 4th April 2022, 7:30 am

Twenty-one-year-old Louis Joe Hetherington broke into four properties, stealing cars and other items, Leeds Crown Court heard.

But after it was heard that Hetherington went 'off the rails' after his mother's passing and that he had autism and ADHD, the judge Recorder Marco Giuliani, showed mercy.

He said: "It's clear that his conditions affect his ability to cope."

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Hetherington tried to break into a 92-year-old's home in Ossett.

Speaking about his mother's death, and the crime spree that followed, he said: "In my judgement the two matters significantly linked. But for the death of his mother, it's extremely unlikely he would have ever come before the courts.

"He came across his mother collapsed on the floor and he tried in vain to revive her. He was unsuccessful. He witnessed his mother dying in his arms.

"After that his behaviour became erratic. Without the stabilising effect of his mother he started committing offences."

Prosecutor Kristian Cavanagh said Hetherington's first break-in was committed at around 4am on September 10 last year, when CCTV caught him entering a garden on Oldfield Close, before unscrewing the window to a shed to gain entry and stole an Alexa speaker and TV worth £300.

He was arrested two days later and admitted the offence, before being bailed.

However, he then targeted a home on New Street in the early hours of September 26. He took a wallet and keys to a VW Transporter van after gaining access via an open window.

Fingerprints from the scene matched, and the stolen vehicle later crashed into a parked car.

The at 3.47am on December 16, Hetherington broke into a shed converted into a bar on Cyprus Mount, when an alarm was activated and he fled. He was seen with a screwdriver in his hand on CCTV.

At 4.15am broke into a house on Melbourne Road and conducted an untidy search before taking the car keys. He took the vehicle but crashed it and he was detained.

He had also tried to break into another property of a frail 92-year-old pensioner on Melbourne Road when he used a screwdriver to try and prise open the garage door. The screwdriver, a torch and Stanley knife were left at the scene.

Held on remand in HMP Leeds, he admitted two dwelling burglaries, two non-dwelling burglaries, an attempted burglaries, two offences of theft of a vehicle, and driving without a licence and insurance.

Mitigating, Michael Devlin said it was clear Hetherington suffered from ADHD, but since the death of his mother he had got involved with drugs, and with help limited during the pandemic had turned to crime.

Hetherington, of Doncaster Road, Wakefield, was given a total of 90 weeks' jail, but it was suspended for 18 months meaning he will be released from custody.

He was also given three months' drug rehabilitation.