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21 February 2011, 12:18
A man who stole his aunt's car and then burgled two homes in Houghton Regis, has been jailed for 30 months.
After stealing the car, Benjamin Nicol, 25, was involved in a crash in the Audi A3 on December 17 last year while driving on Catherine Road in Dunstable.
When the police arrived at the scene, the defendant - who lives in Dunstable - left before he could be questioned.
Then, on December 29, Nicol broke into a house shortly before 6pm on Colister Road, Houghton Regis. He got in through a rear door that had been left open, a court heard.
He picked up a laptop, but was disturbed by the occupant and left before he could take anything else.
Two days later, Nicol burgled another house on Tithe Farm Road, Houghton Regis.
This time he got into the house through a rear window and took a laptop, a Nintendo Wii and the contents of a handbag.
Police linked both burglaries to Nicol after finding footprints at both crime scenes and tracing them to his trainers.
Nicol, of Fensome Drive, Dunstable, pleaded guilty to taking a vehicle without consent and to burglary.
Luton Crown Court heard that the defendant had committed his first offence at the age of 14 in 1999 and, in August 2000, had a supervision order for burglary.
Stuart Sprawson told the court that the defendant "had a very unsettled childhood" from a young age.
The barrister said he had gone into homes and found himself unsettled.
Mr Sprawson then told the court that the defendant was a father to three children within four years from the age of 17.
"He found it extremely difficult to cope. He had given up drink and turned to drugs. He was trying to overcome problems by avoiding them and going around them without challenging them."
Mr Sprawson said the defendant was now trying to address his misuse of drugs.
"He knows deep down inside it's an unattractive future" he said.
Judge Michael Baker QC told the defendant "You're weak willed and addicted to Class A drugs."
He told the defendant he had committed a variety of relatively minor offences but he said that the people whose homes he had burgled had suffered outrage and distress.
Nicol was sentenced to six months for stealing the car and two years for the burglary offences to run consecutively.