Burglar escapes jail

A WIGAN man who tried to break into an empty flat and was caught red-handed by a neighbour has escaped jail.

Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard how drug user Jamie Ratchford, 23, had been to visit an acquaintance in flats on Huxley Place, Worsley Mesnes, and noticed that the ground floor flat was empty and had metal shutters on it, so he returned to break in.

He pleaded guilty to attempted burglary of a non-dwelling property with intent to steal, as did his accomplice Dean A’Hearne, 43, of Ellesmere Road, Pemberton, who was dealt with in another courtroom.

The neighbour returned to the flats on March 14 and noticed Ratchford, who has 18 previous convictions, and A’Hearne standing in the corridor of the communal area.

Prosecuting, Jan Urey, said: “The man’s suspicions were provoked as the pair were just hanging around and he saw a metal pole, which looked as though it had been sharpened to a point at each end.”

After a few minutes, he heard the sound of metal being hit and thought that the men were trying to prise open the door. He went outside his flat and saw the two men running off so he called the police.

Peter Moran, defending Ratchford, of Avon Road, Norley Hall, said: “My client is a man whose drug of choice is amphetamine although he does accept there are times he does use heroin as well.

“The men got to the flats by the use of a flat back truck in the back of which was the metal pole they used to try and prise open the door.

“He wanted to see what was inside to see if he could make any money, as he is always short due to his drug habit.”

Ratchford was also charged with breaching his bail after failing to attend court on Friday. He was given a 12-month community order, a 12-month supervision order and is required to attend drug rehabilitation treatment for six months.

A’Hearne was given an eight-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, an 18-month supervision order and is also required to attend drug rehabilitation for six months.