Anger as prolific burglar is spared jail

VICTIMS of a prolific burglar who carried out more than 20 raids on properties told of their shock last night after he was spared jail.

Will Clarke

VICTIMS of a prolific burglar who carried out more than 20 raids on properties told of their shock last night after he was spared jail.

Stephen Ellis, 37, of Red Lodge, admitted a string of burglaries before magistrates in Bury St Edmunds yesterday.

They included raids on the Corn Craft shop in Monks Eleigh, near Sudbury, and Lakenheath Primary School in September and the Pipps Ford hotel, near Needham Market, in December.

Ellis asked for a further 19 offences, carried out between September last year and January this year, to be taken into account.

Sentencing Ellis, magistrates in Bury St Edmunds gave him a suspended sentence - despite a burglary record stretching back to 1985.

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He will have to carry out 250 hours of community service in the first 12 months of the two-year sentence as well as pay back half of the estimated £3,665 of damage and thefts he was responsible for.

David Stewart, for Ellis, said he admitted his crimes and felt “ashamed” for leaving his disabled wife alone when she needed 24-hour care. Ellis's wife is paralysed below the waste following a car accident seven years ago, the court heard.

Ellis, of Heathersett Way, said the pressures of full-time care had pushed him into a gambling addiction, unsustainable debts and crime.

But one of his victims last night told how Ellis should have been sent to jail.

Royston Gage, of the family-run Corn Craft shop, said the crimes had been extremely distressing.

“With that number of convictions I think he should have spent a few months inside.

“But I suspect the prisons are so full they probably can't hold him. I just hope that if he does it again he will be clobbered,” he said.

At Lakenheath Primary School, Ellis stole only £2 but caused £500 of damage to doors and windows as he searched for cash, the court was told.

His luck ran out after his DNA was found on blood-stained shards of glass following the school break-in.

And when officers arrested him they went on a driving tour during which he pointed out the other 19 offences in Gazeley, Rougham, Onehouse, Long Melford, Lavenham, Needham Market, Lakenheath, Barton Mills and Clare.

Chrissy Harrod, president of the Bury Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is very distressing to be a victim of a burglary whether it is a business or a private dwelling.

“We can only hope that the police and the courts ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are dealt with in the correct way.”