Jail for criminal who was given one last chance

A prolific burglar who re-offended after being given a chance to turn his life around was today jailed for five years.

Bradley Wernham admitted more than 600 offences across Essex with police estimating he had stolen about �1.1 million of goods, including hi-powered sports cars.

But the prolific 19-year-old thief was controversially given an opportunity to turn his back on his life of crime when he appeared before Judge Christopher Ball QC at Chelmsford Crown Court last October.

Instead of jail, Wernham was re-homed in Chelmsford and given a string of community penalties including a three-year supervision order, night-time curfew and unpaid work.

The sentence was made with the agreement of Essex Police and was the first time the force had tried the “innovative” scheme which the judge admitted that while a “gamble”, was the best course of action.

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But by January Wernham had attempted to burgle another house.

He was hauled back before Judge Ball who yesterday sentenced him to four-and-a-half years for the original offences, and a further six months for the attempted burglary.

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Judge Ball said Wernham’s “immaturity” was to blame for him not fully engaging in the scheme.

Chelmsford Crown Court yesterday heard Wernham initially co-operated with the project by admitting 645 crimes - 300 of which were burglaries.

Judge Ball said: “The sentence I then passed was a considered and deliberate risk in the hope that, given the encouraging signs, that such a course would indeed break Mr Wernham out of his cycle of offending.

“The risk that I then took obviously has not ultimately resulted in the desired effect.”

Wernham told probation officers he committed offences for the “buzz”.

The court heard that by January, Wernham was aware police were tracking his movements and concerned his move from Harlow to Chelmsford could be linked to a rise in burglaries in the area.

The judge told Wernham: “As explained to probation, committing offences gives you a buzz, gives you an adrenalin rush and you were pitting your wits against the police.”

Prosecutor Rex Bryan said the intended target may have been a BMW M5 car parked in the driveway of the home Wernham tried to break into on that occasion.

The judge praised the police for trialling the scheme despite Wernham’s reoffending, saying: “There are more ways of making life safer for the public than just locking people up”.

“There is real scope for these aspects of rehabilitation to take place in the community and occasionally, in cases such as this, the risk is justified. It was a unique case.

“The fact that it has not been successful in the sense that Mr Wernham has chosen to reoffend must not discourage the police from continuing to employ the scheme and this approach to selected offenders.

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