PM reacts to Teesside judge's 'courage' comment

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron Photo: Daybreak

A crown court judge has waded into a storm of controversy for claiming that burglars showed courage by breaking into people's homes.

Judge Peter Bowers, who sits at Teesside Crown Court, also said that prison rarely did anybody any good. His comments are now being investigated by the Office for Judicial Complaints.

The comments came on September 5 during the sentencing of a Richard Rochford, who had broken into three homes in East Cleveland to steal what he could to feed his drug habit.

Judge Peter Bowers was summing up when he said: "It takes a huge amount of courage as far as I can see for someone to burgle somebody's house. I wouldn't have the nerve."

He went on to say that prison rarely did anyone any good and gave Rochford a suspended sentence.

Victims of Richard Rochford told ITV News that their lives have been drastically affected by what happened and they were sickened by the judge's comments.

The comments are now subject of an investigation by the Office for Judicial Complaints and they have caused quite a stir at Westminster. A number of politicians have spoken out against them, including the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who told Daybreak he himself had been burgled and that it was a 'hateful crime'.

MP for Redcar, Ian Swales said that using the word 'courage' is an insult to those who have real courage.

People in Middlesbrough gave their reaction.

In court, Judge Bowers showed awareness of what could come from his comments.

"I may get pilloried for saying what I have done".

– Judge Peter Bowers

Peter Bowers was unavailable for comment.