Burglar jailed of crime spree at Leeds city centre businesses

John Paul Stokes.
John Paul Stokes.

A CAREER burglar who targeted a music studio, a pub and a confectionery shop in Leeds city centre has been jailed for 20 months.

Leeds Crown Court heard John Paul Stokes was caught by police as he carried out a raid on the Thorntons store on Commercial Street, in the early hours of the morning.

Stokes smashed a door and a window to get into the property and went into a staff room in search of a key to the safe.

Stokes had managed to pull the safe onto the floor when officers arrived. He was found in possession of a screwdriver.

Stokes was arrested and admitted to the officers he planned to spend to proceeds of the break-in on drugs.

Mark McKone, prosecuting, said Stokes had also admitted to carrying out a burglary at a music studio on Albion Place and stealing £4,000 worth of recording equipment.

He also admitted responsibility for breaking into a pub and stealing £120 as well breaking into a car and stealing a sat nav and £15 in cash. All the offences took place in August this year.

Stokes, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to burglary and asked the court to take three further offences into consideration.

The court heard Stokes, 29, of no fixed address, has 60 previous convictions, mainly for burglary, theft and vehicle offences.

Marcus Waite, mitigating, said Stokes had admitted the offences at an early stage and had been frank with police over his offending.

Mr Waite said drug abuse was the cause of Stokes’s offending but he planned to keep trying to overcome his addiction while in custody.

Jailing Stokes, judge Geoffrey Marson, QC, said: “Yours is a sad but frequent case in these courts, where people who are addicted to drugs steal to feed their habit and enrich the dealers who sell it.

“Unless you are free of your drug habit you are likely to commit further offences.”

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