A South Shields burglar raided hairdressers after breaking into a music store
John Bothick, 45, claimed he did not illegally enter CH Guitars and crash into the ceiling in the Diamond Hair outlet below in Fowler Street, South Shields.
Bothick, of Beach Road, South Shields, pleaded not guilty after prosecutors presented only blurry CCTV footage of a suspect at the scene on Friday October 22.
But new forensic fingerprint evidence was presented in court on the day of his trial, causing him to sing a different song – and change his plea.
A judge has now given him a last-minute reprieve from jail after he first admitted she had intended him for jail time but changed her mind at the last moment.
Prosecutor Marc Atkins told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court: ‘CH Guitars was where he entered the premises below.
“He entered using a saw which was in the premises to cut the floor, and he used a ladder which was also in the premises to descend to the hairdressers.
“The money was taken from the hairdresser’s till, it was £50, which was the next day’s float.
“A tip jar containing around £700, which had been there for some time and only emptied once a year at Christmas, was stolen.
“The guitar shop manager is a DIY enthusiast and did a lot of the repairs himself, but had to pay £30 for a repair kit for his damaged door.”
Mr Atkins added: ‘There was CCTV of the guitar shop. The accused was questioned about the offence, but denied it.
“On the day of the trial, evidence of a footprint was submitted which led to a guilty plea.”
Bothick, who has 39 previous convictions for 98 offenses, including 55 for theft or relatedness, pleaded guilty to burglary and criminal damage.
The court heard he was jailed for eight months for a non-residential burglary in February last year and was on license when he did it again.
Peter Farrier, defending, said Bothick had not reoffended since and the imposition of a hard curfew had positively changed his behavior.
He added: “In a nutshell, Mr Bothick knows his predicament very well.”
A probation service report read in court found Bothick was working well with his rehabilitation teams and was seeking help for substance abuse.
Sentencing Bothick, District Judge Zoe Passfield told him she had written on her notepad that she would jail him for six months.
But she revealed that she changed her mind at the eleventh hour after hearing the positive input from the probation service.
Judge Passfield jailed him for six months, suspended him for 18 months and ordered him to pay compensation of £750 to Diamond Hair and £30 to CH Guitars.
The conditions of the suspended sentence are that he must commit no further offences, complete 20 days of rehabilitation and observe a 12-week curfew from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.
There were no court costs or victim fine surcharges.