Outcry after judge says burglary takes courage

A judge who said burglary needed "a huge amount of courage" will be investigated after members of the public contacted the Office for Judicial Complaints to vent their anger.

Judge Peter Bowers admitted he might be "pilloried" when he spared the burglar jail at Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday. The case caused an outcry, with the Prime Minister commenting that burglars were not brave but "cowards" and their crimes were "hateful".

A spokesman for the Office for Judicial Complaints said that it had received "a number" of complaints", which would be "considered under the Judicial Discipline Regulations in the usual way". If they are upheld the case will be passed to the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord Chancellor, who will consider if disciplinary action is needed.

According to the Evening Gazette newspaper, Judge Bowers told an offender who raided three homes in five days: "It takes a huge amount of courage, as far as I can see, for somebody to burgle somebody's house. I wouldn't have the nerve."

David Hines, head of the National Victims' Association, said: "What message does this send out to society? Quite frankly it is outrageous."