Selfie-loving burglar snared by his snaps

Christopher Atherton
Christopher Atherton

A burglar who stole from a Wigan pensioner was caught after police found pictures on his mobile phone of the crime spree.

The dim-witted crook’s downfall began when he was arrested on a separate matter and thrown into the back of a police van and despite being handcuffed began taking selfies.

The arresting officer challenged Christopher Atherton and found he had hidden the phone down his trousers.

When the item was retrieved and examined, Atherton’s guilty secrets were revealed.

As well as breaking into three small businesses in St Helens he had also burgled the home of a sleeping 78-year-old woman in Wigan and stolen two purses.

After the incriminating footage was found on his phone Atherton went on to admit the burglaries and has been jailed for 21 months.

Sentencing the 23-year-old the judge, Recorder Simon Medland, QC, pointed out that the elderly widow and grandmother had lived in the house in Brindley Street for 55 years but no longer feels safe in her own home.

David Polglase, prosecuting, told Liverpool Crown Court that after being arrested last December for handling Atherton was transported between different locations and it was during one journey that he took the selfies.

Examination of the phone revealed him burgling a hairdressing shop, a specialist window firm and a care company during which he stole cash and stock totalling thousands of pounds between October and November last year and caused inconvenience and repair costs to those involved, said Mr Polglase.

The pensioner victim told how Atherton had stolen money which she had put aside for Christmas for her grandchildren and also her pension money.

She pointed out that he must have known she was a pensioner while carrying out the raid.

Recorder Medland pointed out Atherton has a number of previous convictions and had not been free from prison for long before these offences.

Atherton, of Blackstone Avenue, St Helens, pleaded guilty to four burglaries.

Martyn Walsh, defending, said that Atherton had admitted his guilt and he pointed out that it had not been a confrontational burglary at the widow’s home.

g Police are continuing to investigate an incident at a Wigan estate agency in which a man kicked in the shop’s windows.

The March 20 attack left Sapphire Home with a hefty bill to pay and the company, alongside police, has released CCTV images of the man who is wanted in connection with the incident.

Witnesses should call them on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.