A prolific burglar who failed to stop his life of crime after his girlfriend was murdered was caught red-handed in the bedroom of a family’s home in Doncaster.
A father and his two grown-up children held Andrew Lowe in a ‘bear-hug’ until police arrived at their house in Bentley, a court was told.
Lowe was locked up for four-and-a-half years after a judge at Doncaster Crown Court praised the ‘valiant’ efforts of the Hendry family, who wrestled him onto a bed when they realised he had sneaked in.
It was his 20th court appearance for a total of 65 offences, including at least 12 burglaries during a criminal career which started in 1988.
Lowe, aged 41, of West End, Bentley, was said to have ‘struggled’ with life since his girlfriend was battered to death in Doncaster’s red-light district nearly five years ago.
He pleaded guilty to charges of burglary and attempted burglary at adjoining houses in Lauder Road last January.
Prosecutor Philip Standfirst described how one of the occupants was in his living room when he felt a cold draught and realised his front door was open with Lowe standing there, asking if it was the ‘right place to buy cheap booze’.
He was told to leave but a few minutes later next door neighbour Peter Hendry and other members of his family heard footsteps in the bedroom above.
When Mr Hendry and his adult children, Neil and Laura, went upstairs to investigate they found someone on the other side of the bedroom door, trying to get out.
As Lowe tried to escape Laura Hendry grabbed him around the neck and Neil held him in a bear-hug before they all landed on a bed.
The three managed to restrain him until police arrived. There were a total of 10 people in the house at the time, some of them children.
Lowe said he couldn’t remember anything about the break-in because he had drunk extra-strength lager and vodka and had taken 20 valium tablets that day.
His criminal record showed at last a dozen burglaries, and it was the fourth time he had been subject to three-strikes-and-out legislation, which means crooks committing three separate burglaries are liable to a minimum prison term of three years. Defence counsel Andrew Smith said he was ‘very, very drunk’ and that ‘alcohol abuse is part of his personality trait’.
Lowe’s girlfriend, Cheryl Camm, was murdered in a subway in Thorne Road in December 2008.
“He has struggled to cope,” said Mr Smith. “The root cause of the problem is that, when in drink, he reverts to this type of behaviour.”
The defendant wrote a letter, expressing his regret, to Judge Jacqueline Davies, who told him: “These were serious matters as you know only too well.
“You were caught red-handed due to the valiant actions of Mr Hendry and members of his family.”