An ingenious burglar tried to explain his fingerprint being found at a crime scene by telling police he had made the window.
Darren Powell went into a neighbour’s back garden in Chudleigh and climbed six foot before reaching in to grab a mobile phone but left hand and palm prints on the ledge.
He was traced by police because he was already on a suspended sentence for another sneak raid on a pensioner’s home a few yards away.
He has been given a final chance to stay out of prison by a judge at Exeter Crown Court who adjourned his case so he could be assessed by a residential rehabilitation project in North Devon.
Powell, aged 20, of Fore Street, Chudleigh, admitted burglary and being in breach of his earlier nine month suspended sentence.
Assistant Judge Advocate Alan Large adjourned the case for three weeks so Powell can be assessed by care workers at the Amber Project at Chulmleigh.
Mr Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said:”Powell put his hand through the rear window of a house near his home and took a mobile phone from inside. He had to go into the back garden and climb up six feet to reach the window.
“The property was 100 metres from his home and police recovered finger and palm prints from the window.
“When he was interviewed he denied being involved to police and said he worked for a glass and window manufacturer and that his prints got onto the sill before it was fitted.
“Inquiries were made with the window firm and although they did fit them, their records showed Powell was not employed by them at the time.”
Mr Evans said Powell was on a suspended sentence at the time for an attempted burglary at a bungalow in The Parade, Chudleigh, where a 77-year-old grandmother lived.
He also failed for attend a series of probation appointments to do 100 hours of unpaid community work.
Mr William Parkhill, defending, said Powell has suffered a troubled early life and had been homeless sporadically since he was 12.
He said he is now in a relationship which offers stability for the first time and is keen to work with specialists at the Amber Project in North Devon.
The judge warned him the sentencing judge may decide he should go straight to jail, regardless of the whether he is accepted by the project.
He said:”The idea of being on a suspended sentence is that when you see an open window and are tempted you remember that the consequence of putting your hand inside is that you will almost certainly go to jail.”