A BURGLAR from Oswaldtwistle who has notched up no fewer than 12 convictions for house break-ins before the age of 30 has been jailed for four years.

Gary Ward’s life of crime began when he was 14 years old and he received his first youth-court sentence for burglary, Burnley Crown Court was told.


He had been jailed for the statutory minimum of three years on three occasions for similar break-ins, the court heard.

Prosecutor Stephen Parker said that Ward’s latest raid occurred at the home of Gavin Dunleavy in Roe Greave Road, Oswaldtwistle, on April 18, after the father-of-two and his family had gone to bed.

Mr Dunleavy did not immediately notice someone had been in his house until he returned from work the next day and could not find his wallet. Mr Parker said Mr Dunleavy then discovered that it had been stolen alongside a handbag, alcohol, computer equipment and cigarettes.

CCTV footage, taken from Mr Dunleavy’s home, showed Ward walking into the house through an unlocked door. He took items valued at around £1,500 in total before fleeing.

Jailing Ward, who pleaded guilty, Recorder Tania Griffiths QC said that the only reason his criminal record had slowed in recent years was because he had been locked up and not at liberty to offend.

She said: “You are only 27 but despite your young age you are a prolific burglar and you know full well what the sentence is going to be. You committed this burglary at night, with young children asleep upstairs.”

The court heard that Ward had dumped some of the stolen property in a bush and had offered to help the householder retrieve his losses. But the judge said the six-week wait made the suggestion almost impractical.

Miss Recorder Griffiths said: “This is an unbelievable record. Not only had you only been released from custody for around a month for burglary offences but you then go on to commit this burglary.”

James Heyworth, defending, said his client knew that he needed to get his life back on track if he wanted to avoid further jail sentences.