Retford: Jail for the burglar who tried to escape on a bike

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A burglar on a bicycle was tracked down by a police helicopter after trying to hide from police in a farm building.

Andrew MacDonald, 33, of East Street, Retford, broke into a large, detached house on the banks of the River Trent in Nottinghamshire.

He was in the process of stealing a £2,500 Breitling watch and another watch and jewellery valued at nearly £1,000, when he was distrurbed by the owner returning home with her young daughter, who came face to face with the intruder.

MacDonald fled the scene but was caught on camera by a neighbour’s CCTV.

The neighbour initially gave chase but lost the trail.

However, MacDonald was picked up again by the police helicopter, which tracked him for three miles before MacDonald rode into a farmyard building and closed the door in an attempt to hide.

But he was caught and jailed for three years and eight months after pleading guilty at Nottingham Crown Court.

MacDonald at first said he was just out on a cycle ride and had pulled into the farm building to smoke a spliff.

But the court heard that he had tried to discard his coat, gloves and balaclava while trying to escape and that he had 11 previous convictions for burglary and had previously served custodial sentences in London, Kent and Devon.

The court also heard the victim’s daughter had suffered from broken sleep since the confrontation.

Prosecuting, Mr Richard Thatcher said: “The house he targeted backed onto the river and had an enclosed rear garden with a high perimeter fence.”

“The back door to the house had been smashed, causing £600 of damage.”

“He ran off through a gate onto the river bank but he was seen cycling away on a neighbour’s CCTV.”

Defending, Mrs Nicohola Higgins said: “He was working in food industry but he lost his job.

“I accept he has a bad record, but he is taking real steps to turn away from crime.”

The judge, Recorder Martin Butterworth, told MacDonald: “It is correct the house was unoccupied when you entered but you took the risk the occupants would return and be very upset, if not terrified, and on this occassion, you came face to face with a child.”

The judge also said he had no doubt MacDonald would have stolen more if not disturbed, and no doubt he had thrown away what he had stole as he was being pursued by police.