One-man crimewave left trail of devastation across Derby

This burglar left a trail of devastation behind him when he smashed his way into four city centre businesses during a spree of offending. In just three weeks, drug addict Alan Webster caused thousands of pounds of damage by forcing his way into The Kitchen, Carnero Lounge, Waterstones book shop and hair salon Keith Paul.

The heartless criminal took cash from tills he broke and even took what little money there was from a charity box he prised open. When he was sentenced over video-link from HMP Nottingham into Derby Crown Court, the 37-year-old, who has a string of breaks-ins to his name stretching back more than a decade, said “f*** that” as he found out his fate.

His barrister said that Webster’s life began to spiral out of control when his beloved grandfather died in 2004. This, said Webster, lead to his drug addiction and need to steal across Derby to fund the devastating habit.

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Jailing Webster, of Normanton, for three years and four months, Judge Nirmal Shant QC said: “This is not an offence without victims because what you did on each instance was force your way in an cause considerable damage. It is plain you vandalised the properties you went into and I have some suspicions, although I do not sentence you on this basis, you had something with you to help you enter the properties.”

Sarah Slater, prosecuting, outlined each of burglaries in chronological order to the court. She said the first happened at The Kitchen, in Sadler Gate, overnight November 25 to 26.

Miss Slater said the defendant smashed a rear window to gain entry, smashed into the tills to steal cash and caused an estimated £5,000 of damage. She said he left blood at the scene which was swabbed and matched to the defendant.

“On December 12 he broke into the Canero Lounge, in St Peter’s Street, breaking onto a room where the tills were stored, stealing £300 and another £50 to £100 in tips.”

The prosecutor said the next break-in took place at Waterstones, also in St Peter’s Street, four days later. Here, she said Webster, of Hartington Street, stole a charity box containing an estimated £20 and left what the shop manager called “devastation everywhere”.

The final burglary happened at Keith Paul hairdressers, in Sadler Gate, on December 18, where he broke in and stole money from the till. He was arrested on Christmas Eve in the city centre by officers who knew he was wanted.

Miss Slater said that, after answering “no comment” to the questions he was asked in interview, the defendant pleaded guilty to four counts of burglary. He has 33 previous convictions to his name including at least six for the same offence.

Nicola Hunter, mitigating, said her client went into a “downward spiral” in 2004 after his grandfather, to whom he was very close, died. She said that led to drug addiction and crime to fund it.

Miss Hunter said: “He suffered recent tragedy as his sister and her partner both died. He was very kindly allowed to attend the funeral and that has made him realise, in his own words, ‘I can’t keep doing this, I have to be there for my mum’.”