Former burglar is cleared of thefts
A MAN who “confessed” to burgling a house in the dead of night has been cleared of any wrongdoing after a jury believed the police misunderstood him.
Paul Christian told officers: “I know what you are on about: All I took was some money and a phone from Beamans Lane,” after he had been arrested for the break in.
But the 41-year-old, who has a history of burglary, said he was tongue-tied and high on a cocktail of drink and drugs when he made the comment.
And he persuaded a jury at Swindon Crown Court that he meant he had found the items in a nearby street in Royal Wootton Bassett.
Christian, of Iles Court, Goatacre, who was on trial for burglary, was found not guilty.
Nick Fridd, prosecuting, told the court a woman, who lives alone with her cat in the detached house, was woken in the early hours of Monday, August 19, last year.
At first she thought the noise was the animal but when a light went on outside her bedroom she went out to see a man on the landing.
He ran from the property, without her getting a look at his face, and later she found a number of things missing.
Among the stolen property was money, a laptop and her mobile phone, which was used several times a few hours later.
A couple of days later police arrested Christian from a friend's house in Brinkworth and drove him to the police station.
In the car he said, “I know what you are on about: All I took was some money and a phone from Beamans Lane.”
And he signed an officer’s notebook to confirm it.
When he was formally questioned he gave a prepared statement saying he had not committed a burglary but he had stumbled on the items.
And giving evidence he explained what he had meant was he found the phone and money on the ground of Vale View.
He told the jury he had been drinking in the park in Royal Wootton Bassett during the day and was on his way to a friend's house in the early hours when he found the items.
“I was walking back to his house and I found the mobile phone on the ground and some loose change and thought ‘happy days, I have a drink for the morning,’” he said.
He said he had been taking the drug subutex, a heroin substitute, and valium as well as drinking alcohol before the police arrested him and he had not meant he burgled the house.
“That came out wrong. What I meant to say was I found a phone with some money in Vale View, not Beamans Lane,” he said.
“Because I was drunk and under the influence I was tongue tied and it basically came out wrong.”
He said he confused the road names because one of the officers had used it when they arrested him.
And he said he knew what had been taken after hearing gossip on the streets of Royal Wootton Bassett after the break-in.
The jury of eight men and four women was told that, aside from Christian’s comment and the fact he had used the phone there was no other evidence against him.
Michael Hall, defending, said: “The Crown say that is enough because that is a confession.
“Are you sure when Paul Christian was sitting in the back of that police car he was confessing to the burglary?"”
The jury, who were told he had convictions for house burglary from 2008, 1995 and 1993 and non dwelling in 2004 and 1995, took just 40 minutes to clear him.