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14 March 2013, 06:00
A Hertfordshire burglar, who spurned the chance given to him by a judge to turn his back on a life of crime, has been jailed for 42 months.
Ross Holmes, from Bushey, was given a community order after he pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglaries which had netted property worth £200,000. He recruited young people from Borehamwood to take part in break ins with him.
Instead of a prison sentence, he was placed by Judge Andrew Bright QC on the Choices and Consequence programme which has been set up in Hertfordshire to help persistent offenders, who often commit crimes out of drug dependency, to tackle their problem on the outside.
That was in September 2011, but last autumn Holmes was found to be in possession of property from a burglary and a small amount of cannabis.
As a result the 24 year-old, of Forest Walk, Bushey, found himself back in court and before Judge Bright for breaching the 36 month community order he had been handed in 2011 to enable him to go on the programme known as C2.
He was back before Judge Bright to be sentenced for the conspiracy to burgle offence as well as the new handling offence and possessing cannabis.
The conspiracy had involved Holmes and two co-defendants committing a series of day time domestic burglaries in London between January 5 and January 21 2011.
They would stay in hotels in Hertfordshire, but travel into London to commit the crimes targeting homes for cash and jewellery.
In September 2011 when appearing at St Albans crown court in front of Judge Bright, Holmes admitted taking part in the conspiracy and asked for 35 similar burglary offences to be taken into consideration.
On Wednesday, the court heard the value of property taken in the burglaries was around £200,000.
Judge Bright told Holmes that "by and large" he had been making progress on the C2 programme and getting his life back on track.
But he said the fact that he had now pleaded to further offences was of concern because it suggested he may have been trying to hoodwink those trying to help him and "string everyone along."
Holmes was given a 30 month jail sentence for the conspiracy offence plus a further 12 months for the new offences to run consecutively making 42 months in all.
Detective Inspector Ken Townsend said: "The judge described Holmes as the ringleader in this conspiracy, frequently using his negative influence to recruit young people from Borehamwood to act in cahoots with him.
A 42 month sentence sends out a clear signal to teenagers in Borehamwood that if they engage in burgling houses, we will come after them, we will arrest them and we will ensure they go to prison.
While Holmes has been unable to turn away from a life of crime, despite the help of several agencies under the C2 Programme, his prison sentence means he is off the streets of Hertfordshire and unable to continue committing burglaries.
As part of the conditions of C2, Holmes has also had to admit all his offending, enabling us to ensure that any victims of his previously unsolved crimes could be satisfied that someone has been identified as responsible and brought to justice."
He added: "C2 project is not a soft option. Prolific criminals are told that if they don't comply with all the stringent conditions of the programme, they will go to prison. Holmes has committed further crime and must face the consequences."
C2 aims to give prolific offenders, usually with some form of addiction which drives their criminality, the opportunity to put their lives of crime behind them and reduce the number of people becoming victims of crime. C2 requires a resolute commitment from offenders to change their lifestyle, kick any addiction they may have, train and ultimately seek, and remain in, honest employment.
Steve Johnson-Proctor, Director of Operations at Hertfordshire Probation Trust added: "Whilst we call our programme C2 it actually stands for Choices & Consequences. This is for good reason. Those on the programme will be given every support to change their lives around but in the end it's their choice if they accept this help or not. If they don't, then the consequence is a long prison sentence. Whilst we are always disappointed when someone on the programme fails, every member of staff working on C2 recognises that the public wouldn't expect anything less."