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Serial burglar escapes jail term
A PROLIFIC criminal escaped a jail term despite admitting 86 burglary offences.
Darren Girling, 36, of Harridge Road, Leigh, stole an estimated £294,176 worth of items throughout 2011 and 2012, and caused £13,793 of damage to homes across south Essex.
The extent of his crime spree was uncovered after he was arrested for five burglaries in Leigh and Westcliff between November 2011 and February 2012 whilst homeowners were on holiday.
Girling revealed to police a further 80 offences, including burglaries, attempted burglaries and car thefts.
Basildon Crown Court heard how he was even driven around by officers so he could point out the properties he targeted.
John Caudle, mitigating, told Basildon Crown Court yesterday how Girling was turning his life around following the birth of his daughter.
He secured a part-time job with his brother and has been drug-free since March 13 last year.
Girling, who used to live in Basildon, moved to Southend in a bid to escape his criminal lifestyle.
Mr Caudle said: “He has remained offence free and this is the longest time he’s been out of prison.
“Bearing in mind his history it comes as a surprise he’s done as much as he has. I wasn’t confident I would be standing here six months later saying he had stayed out of trouble and not committed any more burglaries.”
The court heard how Girling turned to burglary to feed his £300 a day crack cocaine addiction.
He has a string of 50 previous convictions for 250 offences including assault, using insulting words or behaviour and shop theft.
In 2007, he was jailed for three-and-a-half years after stabbing a father-of-four with a screwdriver on Christmas Day.
After being released, he was sent back to prison for two years in 2009 for running a cannabis farm at his girlfriends home.
Six months ago Judge Jonathan Black deferred Girling’s sentencing to give him a chance to change his ways.
On Monday he gave him a two year community order including 200 hours unpaid work.
Addressing him, Judge Black said: “You known that for a man of 36 years of age, you have an appalling record. You have spent a large proportion of your adult life in prison and it is no doubt something you are now at ease with.
“The only hope of keeping you out of trouble in the future is ensuring you keep drug free because it’s clear there is a very strong link between your offending behaviour and drug use.
“Sending you back to prison would almost undoubtedly revert you back towards a life of drugs meaning you would fund it by committing burglary.”