Drunk burglar who led police from scene of crime to his own doorstep with trail of footprints in snow is spared jail

Police spent an hour and a half following mile long trail from victim's home

A drunk burglar who led police from the scene of a break-in to his own doorstep with a trail of footprints in the snow has been spared jail.

Lewis Ward, 28, snuck into a home in Raby Street, Darlington and took an iPad. He stole the tablet from a woman who was alone and waiting for her partner to come home from work.

Ward was arrested just 90 minutes after he walked in through his victim's unlocked front door after police followed his tracks from the scene of the crime to his own doorstep.

The home-owner was getting changed upstairs and when she spotted fresh snow on the living room carpet and saw her boyfriend had not returned, she realised there had been a break-in, Darlington Magistrates' Court heard.

Officers spotted distinctive trainer footprints in the snow by the victim's front door and followed the tracks down alleyways and back lanes.

Police spent an hour and a half following the mile long trail from the victim's home to Ward's house on the other side of town, where they discovered his trainers still wet, with identical patterns on the soles. They found the stolen iPad hidden in a bedroom in the house.

The court heard that Ward, who suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and left the Army in 2007, made an immediate confession and showed police where he had hidden the tablet behind his wardrobe, the court heard.

Jonathan Harley, defending, said: "This is about the least planned burglary you are likely to see."

He said it was an "impulsive" and "silly act" which his client could neither remember nor explain.

He had got drunk following a row with his girlfriend, with whom he had a two-month old baby.

Chairman of the bench Rajeev Devgan said the offence was serious with the aggravating feature of the break-in happening when the victim was at home, alone.

Ward was handed a 26-week jail sentence, suspended for a year, with an order to carry out 240 hours unpaid work and was subjected to a weekend night-time curfew.

He must also pay £85 costs and a £80 victim surcharge from his benefits.

Mr Devgan said: "This is an opportunity for you to put things right."

Ward left court with a woolly hat pulled down tight on his head.

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech

Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift

News
There have been various incidents of social media users inadvertently flouting the law
news

Life and Style
Stack ‘em high?: quantity doesn’t always trump quality, as Friends of the Earth can testify
techThe proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Sport
CSKA Moscow celebrate after equalising with a late penalty
footballCSKA Moscow 2 Manchester City 2: Premier League champions let two goal lead slip in Russia
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London