Tourist left stranded in Leeds after burglar stole passport and cash from Airbnb apartment

PIC: Google Street View
PIC: Google Street View

AN Australian tourist was left stranded in Leeds without a passport and cash after a burglar stole his belongings as he slept in a city centre apartment.

Justin Berry was staying at an Airbnb flat on the Headrow when the property was targeted by Michael Doherty.

Doherty stole Mr Berry’s passport, a Macbook computer, 700 Australian dollars and his mobile phone as he lay sleep.

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Mr Berry awoke in the early hours of November 5 last year to discover his belongings missing from his side.

Mr Berry had another Macbook which Doherty did not manage to steal.

Software developer Mr Berry used it to activate the ‘find my iPhone’ app.

The app showed that Mr Berry’s other Macbook was at a property on Manor Farm Grove, in Belle Isle, Leeds, next door to where Doherty’s mother lives.

Police were contacted and Doherty was recognised from CCTV footage of him entering the apartment complex at Victoria House.

The court heard Doherty had also carried out a burglary at the same complex two months earlier and stole pairs of trainers.

Doherty pleaded guilty to two offences of burglary, but denied entering the apartment where Mr Berry was sleeping and deliberately stealing his property.

A hearing was held at Leeds Crown Court to determine the facts of the offence.

Mr Berry, who has now returned to Australia, gave evidence via a video link from a court in his home city of Melbourne.

He described how he had to travel to London to get documentation to allow him to return to Australia.

He said: “It meant basically that I was stuck in a foreign country without any forms of identification or money or contacts for a period of time, so it was quite scary.

“But also extremely inconvenient.”

Doherty gave evidence and told the court he was homeless at the time and had entered the complex to get dry as it was raining heavily.

The 33-year-old claimed he had taken a rucksack from a corridor but did not know any valuables were inside it.

He said he then left the rucksack in the street outside the property without taking anything from the bag.

Judge Tom Bayliss, QC, asked Doherty: “Why did you take it?”

The defendant replied: “I don’t know to be honest with you, Judge.”

Prosecutor Dave Mackay asked Doherty: “Do you have any explanation at all as to why the computer was next door to your house a couple of days later?”

Doherty replied: “No,”

Judge Bayliss rejected Doherty’s account. He said: “The only common sense conclusion is that the only reason to take the rucksack is to use it to take away the loot, and that’s what we see him doing.

“My assessment is that there was significant planning.”

The case was adjourned to allow for reports. Doherty will be sentenced on March 18.