Opportunist burglar stole school laptops

A builder who stole laptop computers from a school in Clare has avoided being sent to prison.

Alexander Hazel, 22, had been working on a refurbishment contract at Stour Valley Community School in Cavendish Road when he carried out the burglary.

Ipswich Crown Court heard on Monday how Hazel used his access to a temporary building where the computers were being stored, and left six of them outside.

He was arrested after returning to the school on the evening of August 23 accompanied by Darren Oakley, 21, to retrieve them.

Police detained both men and a bag they had with them contained three of the missing computers. Three other missing laptops valued in total at £1,806 were never recovered, the court heard.

Hazel, of Weir Place, Kirton, near Felixstowe, pleaded guilty to burglary, while Oakley, of St Mary’s Crescent, Felixstowe, pleaded guilty to handling stolen property.

The court heard that the computers were new and had been taken from a dozen purchased by the school for pupils to use when they returned after the summer break.

In mitigation, Roger Thomson said Hazel, who had dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, had been “opportunistic” when he decided to take the computers.

Craig Marchant, representing Oakley, said his client had expressed regret and realised that it had been a stupid decision to become involved.

Mr Marchant said: “He saw it as an opportunity to make a bit of money. He didn’t think he was going to get caught.”

Imposing a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, on both Hazel and Oakley, Judge David Goodin told them: “I have about as much sympathy for you as you had for your victims, your victims being the children returning from their holidays to find your dishonesty.”

Hazel and Oakley have each been ordered to complete 180 hours of unpaid community work and pay £903 compensation to the school. They will also pay £200 towards the cost of the prosecution.