Prolific Walsall offender caught with knuckle duster made from gate handle and nails
A prolific offender from Walsall with previous convictions involving 158 separate offences is back behind bars.
Gary Winter slipped into the home of a man who put his personal possessions in a cupboard before going to bed after a nightshift - but left one of the doors to the building unlocked at 5am on May 27, a judge was told.
The 36-year-old defendant discovered this and walked into the Miner Street, Walsall property and left with the occupant's credit card, ID document and laptop computer valued at £1,000, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.
The victim was woken up later and told his bank card had been used at a nearby store for two contactless purchases, said Mr Edward Soulsby, prosecuting.
A police officer recognised the culprit on CCTV footage of the incident and Winter refused to give a sample for a drug test after being arrested on June 9.
He was released on bail but failed to turn up for the case to be heard on August 12 and was convicted by magistrates in his absence.
Winter, a scaffolder, was rearrested on a warrant in Hill Street, Walsall, the following day and was found to have a DIY knuckle duster made from a gate handle with pins or nails sticking out from it.
Mr Stephen Cadwaladr, defending, said: "He is an ill man with a chaotic life who has been a shoplifter for many years while in the grip of a drug addiction.
"The theft from the address was opportunist and the bank card was used a short time afterwards to buy items of relatively small value."
He maintained the defendant carried the knuckle duster for his own protection amid fear of reprisals after he gave evidence in a murder trial around 10 years ago.
"Those involved have long memories," declared Mr Cadwaladr.
This was Winter's third prosecution for possession of an offensive weapon, meaning it carried a minimum sentence of six months.
The defendant, from Paoli Place, Carl Street, Walsall, was convicted of burglary, fraud, possession of an offensive weapon, failing to provide a specimen and failing to surrender to bail.
He was jailed for a total of 23 months by Judge Rhona Campbell who said: "You are a persistent offender who has convictions for 158 offences, 56 of which were for theft."
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