A TEENAGE house burglar wrote a note of apology on his victim's computer before escaping with his loot, a court heard on Friday, January 24.
Paul Vidgen woke to find that his home in The Hollygrove, Quedgeley, near Gloucester, had just been raided and the intruder had used the Paint programme on his PC to write "Sorry - I need the money."
The 18-year-old burglar, Jacob Ali, was caught soon afterwards when a police dog tracked him down the road and found him trying to open the door of a parked van.
Ali, a neighbour of Mr Vidgen's in the Hollygrove, Quedgeley, admitted breaking in on November 29 last year and stealing keys, a USB stick and a screwdriver.
The teenager, who has already made thirteen previous court appearances for a variety of crimes including burglary when he was 14, was sentenced to 12 months detention in a young offender's institution.
Judge William Hart said there was no alternative to custody because Ali had received seven youth rehabilitation orders for previous offences and none of them had worked.
Nick O'Brien, prosecuting, said Mr Vidgen was in bed asleep when Ali took advantage of an unlocked door to get in at 1am on November 29.
"He got in and stole various items and then left a message on the householder's computer by activating the Paint programme and typing 'Sorry, I need the money,'" said Mr O'Brien.
"The owner was alerted when he heard the front door close as the defendant left. A security light also came on outside.
"The police were called and a dog tracked the defendant and found him trying to open the door of a parked van. He ran off but was found hiding behind a bin.
"He said he had been looking for power tools. He had a screwdriver and torch on him which he had taken from the property he burgled. He said he committed the offence after getting drunk.
"He also said he had accessed the owner's computer because it had no password."
Sarah Jenkins, defending, said "There has been a degree of remorse expressed by Mr Ali right from the start.
"He tells me that a few days before this he had been informed by his partner that she was involved in an affair with his best friend.
"She chose to tell him that piece of news on his birthday. He concedes that the piece of news and the subsequent breakdown of the relationship led to him binge drinking. He was also taking prescription drugs for depression and combined them with alcohol.
"Such was his level of intoxication on the night of the burglary that when he left the burgled premises he got himself lost - even though he lives in the same road."
Ali was an intelligent man who had experienced a very difficult childhood, she said. His father had died when he was 11 and his mother had taken him to live in Ibiza.
But he found the situation intolerable in Ibiza and ran away from home, living rough on the island for six months and taking cannabis.
He was then taken back to the UK to live with a grandmother. When his mother later returned as well the relationship with them was strained and he had been living independently since the age of 16, she said.
"This is his first experience of custody and he finds it tortuous. He says it has been the most boring time for him since he was remanded into custody. He finds it very unstimulating."
At a previous hearing of the case Ms Jenkins said Ali found it particularly boring that all the other inmates seemed to want to talk about Hollyoaks and nothing else.
Passing sentence, Judge Hart said: "You are clearly an articulate and intelligent young man but with a bad record."