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Have-a-go hero praised by controversial judge
A HAVE-A-GO householder who tackled a night-time raider was praised for his bravery by a judge who was condemned for once describing a burglar as courageous.
Judge Peter Bowers - criticised last year for his controversial remarks - said Peter Cowley should be commended for helping to catch criminal Daniel Lawrence.
Lawrence, 27, tried to flee from the house in Guisborough, east Cleveland, after he set off a motion sensor in Mr Cowley's garage, a court heard.
The daring home-owner leaped from bed, got dressed and tried to pull Lawrence back inside, but the intruder struggled free and ran off to his stolen getaway car.
Mr Cowley continued his chase, stopped the suspect pulling away in the Mini and grabbed the keys from the ignition - but jobless Lawrence escaped again.
He left behind a shoe from the struggle and a bottle, and was later traced and arrested, but denied being there, prosecutor Sue Jacobs told Judge Bowers.
Lawrence's lawyer Andrew Teate said he had not wanted "to stand and fight" but was more concerned about getting away from the scene in Byland Close.
"The householder's bravery should be commended," said Mr Teate. "The brave householder pursued him. He just wanted to get away and not get caught."
The judge said: "It seems to me it took a fair degree of courage to face up to a burglar at night and he should be congratulated for keeping the streets clear of another one."
Lawrence, of High Street, Loftus, east Cleveland, was jailed for three years and four months after he admitted burglary with intent to steal and taking a vehicle without consent.
Mr Teate told Judge Bowers that he had spent 11 years of his life behind bars, and since 2004 every time he has appeared in court he has been locked up.
"Prior to this offence occurring, he had never managed to go more than a month without committing an offence," said Mr Teate.
"But he was released from his last sentence in December 2011 and remained entirely offence-free until this."
Mr Teate said he started using drugs when he was 11 and after his most recent release was helped by regular probation appointments - but returned to crime when they stopped.
Judge Bowers was embroiled in a political storm in December when he said burglar Richard Rochford, 26, for Redcar, had shown courage to burgle a house.
The judge told Lawrence: "In many ways, you are a determined criminal. You have got to learn that you are responsible for your own life and you can't rely on probation to prop you up indefinitely."
Rochford had the last of his drug rehabilitation reviews this week, and was said to have "sailed through" the order imposed by Judge Bowers last year.
A source said: "I think that vindicates the judge, who was unfairly criticised for going this lad a chance because he had already made efforts to beat drugs.
"It proves the judge was right not to lock him up, because he now seems to have turned his life around, which he might not have done had he been jailed."