Burglar who fell asleep on family's sofa sentenced

Christopher West must now also undergo a nine-month alcohol treatment requirement and rehabilitation. Credit: Northumbria Police

A burglar who was caught when a family returned from holiday to find him asleep on their sofa, has been jailed.

Christopher West, aged 38, was found dozing in their front room having also helped himself to their food and drink.

On coming back from their trip, the man, woman and young child saw West asleep in their living room through the window.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how the male householder had woken him up and dragged him outside. While nothing had been stolen, West had taken food and alcohol belonging to them and had been smoking in the house.

The family had gone away on 24 October, before a neighbour had seen West sitting on the fence outside two days later. He left when challenged.

On the 27th, the family returned and found him inside. Joe Hedworth, prosecuting, said: "The property has a private drive with a high fence and electric gate. They got out and the child picked up a blue lighter from the ground, which didn't belong to the family.

"The female occupier was concerned and looked through the living room window and saw the defendant asleep on their sofa. She told her partner there was someone in the house and they took the child to a neighbour's property.

"The man then opened the door and went inside. He shouted at the defendant, woke him up and pulled him out of the property."

West was asked how he had got into the property and said "your lass let me in, before claiming a Chinese woman had given him entry to the property.

In a victim impact statement, the female householder said the burglary had affected the mental state of their child saying: "I now have the feeling our safe place is now not safe. We work hard for what we've got and to have someone intrude in our home is terrifying."

West, of Torquay Road, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to burglary and was sentenced to 20 months suspended for two years, with a nine-month alcohol treatment requirement and rehabilitation.

The court heard alcohol had "ravaged" his life and he is "remorseful" and "mortified" by his behaviour.

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