Sock it to him judge! Bungling Leeds drainpipe burglar nabbed by DNA on dropped footwear

A bungling burglar who shinned up a drainpipe so he could steal from a house in Leeds was nabbed by DNA found on a sock that he dropped at the scene of an earlier crime.

Michael George Harvey has been jailed for 32 months after Leeds Crown Court heard how he climbed up the pipe at the back of the multi-occupied house in Ashville Avenue, Hyde Park, on February 1 and stole a laptop from one room.

Bashir Ahmed, prosecuting, said another occupant heard something and went outside to investigate. He saw the window was open to an upstairs room and Harvey was nearby.

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He was suspicious and shouted at Harvey but was ignored, so ran over to him and grabbed his rucksack and tried to restrain him, shouting to other members of the public for help.

There was a struggle during which Harvey lost his hat and the rucksack was dropped before he ran of.

When the witness looked inside the bag he found the stolen laptop and a coat. He was able to describe Harvey to the police and later picked him out at a video identification parade.

Harvey, 49 of Hesketh Avenue, Leeds, admitted the burglary and asked for two other offences to be taken into consideration.

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In one of those earlier offences, the court was told, he had sneaked into a house in Lunan Terrace, Harehills, while the occupant was praying and stole a small safe containing cheque books, bank cards and £410 in cash. He used a pair of socks to help in the burglary - but dropped one, which was later found to have his DNA on it.

Mark Foley, representing Harvey, said his crimes were motivated by his addiction to drugs.

Harvey read a letter over a video-link from prison expressing his remorse to the court. He said: “I am at an age I can honestly say I am ashamed and sorry for what I have done.”

He said his mother had died recently and he realised he would never be able to make her proud of him. “Whatever happens today, I am 100 per cent ready to change.”

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Jailing Harvey, the Recorder of Leeds Judge Peter Collier QC said he understood that addiction to drugs was fuelling his criminal behaviour, but both the Hyde Park and Harehills areas were already blighted by high burglary rates.