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Prolific Burnley thief in ‘midst of crack addiction’ jailed again for burgling tennis club

A PROLIFIC thief in the “midst of a crack addiction” who burgled two East Lancashire venues, causing a combined total of more than £8,000 worth of damage, has been jailed, again.

John Barnes, 33, of Lower Tentre, Burnley, is already serving a 25 month prison sentence for two commercial burglaries that he committed before the ones he was sentenced for on Tuesday.

Preston’s Sessions House heard how just two weeks before being sent to prison for those commercial burglaries, Barnes, who has 33 convictions for 64 previous offences, had broken into Burnley Tennis Club and Finsley Gate Wharf, stealing items and causing thousands of pounds worth of damage .

Prosecuting, Niamh Ingham told the court that on August 31 last year, the police were called to Finsley Gate Wharf by the manager following a burglary.

Ms Ingham said: “The manager confirmed with officers that she’d locked the premises the previous night at around 10.30pm but returned in the morning around 5.45am to find the ground floor window smashed and a second window pane removed.

“CCTV showed a male and female approaching the venue with the male seen climbing a wall and circling the compound.

“It then shows him running towards the point of entry before he is seen inside.

“The PC reviewing the footage suspected the male to be Barnes and forensics were taken which matched that of the defendant.

“Details provided by the insurance company stated that £3,280.80 worth of damage had been caused to the building, while the defendant could be seen in the footage taking a tip jar, an iPhone and an iPad.

“In respect of the tennis club burglary, that came before this one, but following the Finsley Gate incident further crime scenes were checked to see if forensics matched those of Barnes, and this was found in the case of the tennis club, which had been burgled on August 25.”

Ms Ingham told the court the same officer checked CCTV from the tennis club and confirmed the male in the footage was the same male involved in the Finsley Gate Wharf burglary.

She went on: “The manager was awoken around 12.20am to a notification on his phone telling him the club had been broken into.

“He was able to watch CCTV on his phone and could see people inside the tennis club.

“Around £160 was taken from the till, a TV was stolen, and damage caused to a music system as well as several bottles of alcohol stolen.

“There was £5,000 worth of damage done mostly to the front door and four internal doors.

“The impact this has had on the tennis club is huge as it is a community club run by volunteers and operates in an area of ​​Burnley where there are many underprivileged children who benefit from activities provided by the club.”

Barnes’ barrister, Philip Holden, said his client was already serving a 25 month sentence for two commercial dwelling burglaries, failing to surrender, and providing cannabis into a prison in North Wales.

He said: “He wishes to apologize for his actions and states he was in the midst of a crack addiction at the time.

“He now has a job in the prison and uses his time constructively.

“He recognizes at 33 he is too old for the life he’s leading.”

Recorder Paul Hodgkinson said: “You have a dreadful, dreadful record and you burgled Burnley Tennis Club, a place where they try to do their best for the community.

“At the time they were engaged in a scheme where the youth were being fed and engaging in some activities. They were doing good, you have done the opposite to feed your drug habit.

“Your second offense was similar – you stole a tip jar from people who were working there – that money might have paid for their children’s lunches, or their gas bills.

“You committed these offenses while on bail and they were committed at night.”

Barnes pleaded guilty to two none-dwelling burglaries and was jailed for a further 10 months.

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