Newcastle addict Nathan Downes jailed for special school burglary
A DRUG addict who stole electronic equipment valued at hundreds of pounds from a special school has been jailed.
Nathan Downes, of Friars Walk, Newcastle, admitted burgling The Coppice School and taking a portable DVD player, a laptop computer and a Nintendo Wii games console.
Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard that the 29-year-old had also acted as a lookout for a burglary at another Newcastle-based special school, Blackfriars.
During the incident at The Coppice School, Downes – who has nine previous convictions – caused damage to a door as he forced it open.
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Yesterday, he was sent to prison for eight months.
Jason Holt, defending, said that in retrospect, Downes was "disgusted by his actions".
He said: "He knew it was a school but didn't know it was a special school. He makes it clear he has targeted schools, but didn't realise they were both special schools.
"It's fair to say he's disgusted by his actions and acknowledges the upset he would have caused and from an early stage, he has acknowledged his disgust and has genuine remorse for his actions."
Mr Holt said Downes had recovered some of the items, which he handed over to the police.
Andrew Wilkins, prosecuting, told the court that Downes had dropped and broken the DVD player during the burglary and had sold the laptop.
Downes broke into The Coppice School, in Abbots Way, Newcastle, between July 17 and 18.
A subsequent forensic examination of the school led to him being arrested on August 1.
Downes admitted to police that he had returned to Coppice on July 27 in a further attempt to burgle the school but couldn't get in.
Downes also revealed he acted as a look-out during a burglary at Blackfriars, in Priory Road, the following day but did not steal anything.
The court heard that Downes had been on a programme designed to rehabilitate prolific offenders, along with a scheme for drug addicts.
Mr Holt added: "This is a man who comes before the court for a despicable act but he's done everything in his power to sort out that problems that he has and make good the offences he has committed.
"His problem has always been drugs.
"He is about to turn 30 and says that he wants to put this behind him.
"He's been full and frank with the police and asks to wipe his slate clean."
Despite pleas for Downes' punishment to be community-based, Judge Granville Styler opted for an immediate prison sentence.
Judge Styler said: "The aggravating feature is you were targeting special schools.
"It is a mean offence and the public are sick and tired of drug addicts who target schools like this."