Cameron insists burglars are "cowards" after judge tells thief break ins take "courage" (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Cameron insists burglars are "cowards" after judge tells thief break ins take "courage"
11:58am Thursday 6th September 2012 in News
David Cameron has insisted that burglars are "cowards" after a Teesside judge told a sneak thief his break-ins took courage.
The Prime Minister, who revealed he had been burgled twice, branded the offence "hateful".
The comments came after Judge Peter Bowers sparked an outcry during a case at Teesside Crown Court on Tuesday.
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."
Handing 26-year-old Richard Rochford, from Redcar , a suspended 12-month term, the judge said: "I'm going to take a chance on you." The judge said he "might get pilloried" for his decision, but claimed jail would not do much good in this case.
After acknowledging the trauma burglary victims face, the judge explained he would not jail Rochford, who had quit drugs since the February break-ins. He must complete a two-year supervision order with drug rehabilitation and 200 hours' unpaid work, with a one-year driving ban.
Speaking on the ITV programme Daybreak, Mr Cameron admitted he had not seen the details of the case, but added: "I am very clear that burglary is not bravery. Burglary is cowardice. Burglary is a hateful crime.
"I have a very clear view about this, which is burglary is a despicable and hateful crime. I have been burgled twice. You feel completely violated. When someone has smashed their way into your house and stolen your possessions. I am very clear that people who repeatedly burgle should be sent to prison."
The judge's comments drew a furious response from David Hines, chairman of the National Victims' Association. He said: "What message does this send out to society? Quite frankly it is outrageous. The criminal justice system has let the victims down. Burglars are going to believe that judges think they are courageous. I think this judge is on a different wavelength to everyone else."
Judge Bowers, who was sitting on Thursday at Teesside Crown Court, would not be censured for his remarks and judges are independent to make comments while sentencing, a spokesman for the Judiciary of England and Wales said. He declined to comment further.
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