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Great harwood burglar who pledged to go straight jailed
11:22am Thursday 17th October 2013 in Hyndburn
A BURGLAR who pledged to go straight after a restorative justice meeting has been jailed for five years following a string of raids on churches and homes.
Ian Ashworth was the first prisoner in Lancashire to be part of the pioneering scheme.
He told Margaret Foxley he was deeply sorry after stealing a lap-top computer containing photographs of her daughter Jessica, who had been killed in a car accident three months earlier.
Ashworth has now appeared in court again after he crept into a private area of St Wulstan's RC Church, in Rishton Street, Great Harwood, and helped himself to £100 in two charity boxes.
He then struck at homes seven more times while on bail, including twice in one day, as well as breaking into a church in Nelson, Mrs Foxley, who met Ashworth in prison in October 2009 after he had burgled her house and took the lap top, said he had ‘let himself down’.
But she said she keen to meet him again in prison to find out what went wrong and why he had reoffended despite knowing how badly she had been affected by his crimes.
According to the latest figures, hearing directly from victims reduces reoffending by up to 27 per cent and 85 per cent of those taking part say they are satisfied with the experience.
The hearing at Burnley Crown Court was told Ashworth had managed to kick his drugs habit and had kept his nose clean for more than two years following his meeting with Mrs Foxley.
But, he had committed the catalogue of crimes after a relapse when he needed cash to fuel his addiction.
He now has more than 90 offences on his record and has already served terms of four years and 57 months behind bars.
The defendant, of Commercial Road, Great Harwood, admitted burglary at homes in Whalley Road, Clayton- le- Moors, and Swaine Street, Nelson.
Ashworth also asked for six burglaries and two attempted burglaries to be considered.
Stephen Parker, prosecuting, said the priest at St Wulstan's shut the church door but did not lock it.
He returned some hours later and found two charity boxes had gone.
Ashworth was identified by police from CCTV footage at the church. He was questioned, charged and owned up on August 10 and was released on bail.
On August 29, he reached into the house in Whalley Road and took an iPhone while the occupant was in. He was again recognised from CCTV.
Police in the charity box theft case spoke to him by phone that day and he said he would hand himself in when he had got the drugs of his system. He didn't and committed seven more burglaries.
Mr Parker said on September 16, a mother and daughter returned to their Swaine Street, home, to find the defendant in their hall.
The daughter chased him through the house and into the back yard. The victims discovered a glass panel had been smashed and rooms searched.
Keith Harrison, for Ashworth, said he behaved himself through the whole of his last licence.
The barrister said the crimes were ‘unsophisticated and opportunist, but grossly upsetting for those whose houses were burgled’.
Sentencing, Recorder Philip Parry slammed the charity boxes theft as mean and told Ashworth: "It's bad enough that somebody would go into a church and steal charitable collections, but this was that in a private area of the church.
"Your expressions of remorse and sympathy can only take you so far today. The public in this area are entitled to be protected from people like you, addiction or no addiction."
After the sentece, Mrs Foxley, who is now a Pendle councillor, said: “What we must not forget is that now he has re-offended there is a whole new set of victims who will need help moving on from their ordeal.
“I would like to speak to him to understand what went wrong and also believe it would be beneficial for him to meet the more recent victims of his crimes.
“I hope that by doing so it would be possible to prevent him re-offending again.
“I’m not sure what caused him to re-offend, but I believe that more still needs to be put in place to help offenders get back on their feet and integrate into society.
“We should not take away the fact that he had managed to break the cycle for two and a half years.
“He has proved to everyone and himself that he can do it, though I’m sure he will feel disappointed and that he let himself down.”