Prolific offender Thomas Welch back behind bars after Northwood burglary
SERIAL burglar Thomas Welch was today starting a four-year prison sentence after he broke into a house just days after being released from jail.
The 35-year-old was back behind bars after pleading guilty to two house burglaries and asking for two others to be taken into consideration.
Prosecutor David Bennett yesterday told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court that Welch broke into a house in Somerset Road, Northwood, in the early hours of October 7 – 11 days after being freed from his last prison sentence on September 26.
The court heard the homeowner went to bed at 1am leaving her patio doors unlocked and awoke at 7.45am to discover she had been burgled. Her laptop, iPod and handbag and contents were missing. The handbag was later found on a neighbour's driveway with a purse and cash missing.
Welch went on to burgle another property, in Primrose Close, Leekbrook, between 11pm on October 8 and 2.45am the next day.
Mr Bennett said a family were asleep with the male homeowner on the sofa.
"He was woken at 2.45am and discovered the front door wide open," said Mr Bennett.
A wallet with £25 cash and bank cards, a mobile phone and van keys were taken.
Welch was arrested at Leek bus station later on October 9.
The phone taken from the Primrose Close burglary was found in his possession and his shoes matched footprints found at the Somerset Road break-in.
Rachel Thompson, said Welch, who has convictions for 106 offences, has an unenviable record and has become institutionalised and finds it very difficult to cope when released from prison.
"He is 35 and has spent a lot of time going in and out of custody," said Ms Thompson.
"He is disappointed and saddened to be back before the courts facing what will ultimately be a lengthy custodial sentence."
Jailing Welch for four years, Judge Paul Glenn said: "You have offended regularly since the age of 13. You can properly be described as a prolific burglar.
"You have spent an enormous part of your life in custody.
"The minimum sentence provisions apply.
"The two offences were both nocturnal burglaries of occupied dwellings. On one occasion there was very real potential for confrontation but luckily that did not take place.
"The offences are so serious only a significant sentence can be justified."
Welch will serve up to half the sentence before he is released on licence.