Serial thief snub

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A CAREER criminal jailed after a Wigan homeowner and neighbours thwarted his getaway from an attempted car theft has failed to convince top judges his latest prison sentence is too long.

Prolific thief, David Jolly, 37, of Quarry Place, Wigan, was jailed for six years after he pleaded guilty to theft and assault occasioning actual bodly harm at Liverpool Crown Court in October.

Jolly punched a woman in the face after trying to make off with her car and she still suffers frequent flashbacks to the terrifying incident.

This week three of the country’s most senior judges rejected an appeal against Jolly’s sentence - branding his record “appalling” and his sentence “severe” but justified.

Lord Justice Richards said Jolly could fairly be described as a “professional career burglar”, with almost 100 previous convictions for theft, burglary and other offences.

After his release from one of several stints behind bars last July, Jolly targeted the home of Paul and Ruth Howard on a remote country road just outside Wigan, after spotting their Fiat and Mini cars in the driveway.

The judge said Mrs Howard awoke at 6.20am one morning to find the French doors of their home open and the handbag containing her car keys missing.

She then spotted Jolly in her husband’s car and confronted him after he climbed into hers.

“Jolly was struggling to get the vehicle in gear - because the car was a semi-automatic. He got out of the car and attacked Mrs Howard, punching her in the face,” the judge added.

Mr Howard chased Jolly and, after a “violent struggle”, pinned him down, the thief said two more men with a knife were coming and would hurt Mrs Howard if he was not released.

But neighbours soon arrived and helped Mr Howard to detain Jolly until police came.

“In a victim impact statement, Mrs Howard said she had struggled to sleep normally after the incident, had bad dreams and relived what had happened to her two to three times a week,” the judge added.

On appeal, Jolly’s lawyer argued the offences had not warranted the six-year sentence - which was above that recommended in sentencing guidelines.

Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mrs Justice Swift and Mr Justice Holroyde, rejected the appeal, saying the sentencing judge had been entitled to hand down a stiff punishment.

He said: “This sentence was certainly above the guideline range for a category one burglary but, in our judgement, the circumstances justified the judge going above the range.

“Apart from the aggravating factors of the burglary itself, substantial account must be taken of the appellant’s appalling record and the fact that he committed this theft while he was on licence for a previous offence of a similar character.

“While the sentence might be severe it was not excessive.”