Prolific teenage Essex burglar jailed for five years

Image caption, Bradley Wernham had told police he wanted to change his ways

A prolific teenage burglar, who was given a rent-free flat and offered the chance to give up crime, has been jailed for five years.

Last year Judge Christopher Ball spared Bradley Wernham, 19, of Chelmsford, a prison sentence after he admitted more than 600 offences in Essex.

Instead he was given a flat and ordered to carry out unpaid work after he promised to change his ways.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard he tried to burgle another house months later.

Sentencing him, Judge Ball told the teenager: "You cast yourself as a victim and you're not. The public are the victims of your offending and you are responsible for it, no-one else.

"Until you are a man, or man enough to appreciate that fact, there will be little hope in you changing your conduct."

Judge's 'gamble'

He praised the rehabilitation scheme Wernham had been put on, saying his immaturity was to blame for its failure.

Media caption, Chief Insp Glenn Maleary welcomed the custodial sentence given to Bradley Wernham

He admitted he had taken a "gamble" when initially sentencing him in October.

Wernham had told police he wanted to change his ways after beginning his criminal career aged just 11.

Officers recommended he be spared a custodial sentence and he was instead given a three-year community order, a three-year supervision order, a night-time curfew and banned from entering Harlow.

He was also ordered to undertake 150 hours of unpaid work and complete a 60-day education and employment programme.

But he broke the terms of the court order by trying to burgle a house in Witham in January.

'Given a chance'

A man saw him throw a brick into a glass panel of the house and phoned police.

Officers were already nearby as they were carrying out undercover surveillance on Wernham as they suspected him of being responsible for a surge in the number of burglaries in Chelmsford since he had moved to the town.

Det Ch Insp Mark Wheeler, of Essex Police, said the force would "learn lessons" from Wernham's case.

He added: "Bradley Wernham moved to Chelmsford from Harlow in November 2009.

"Throughout this period, he was given support in order to turn him away from crime.

"However, it became apparent that he was continuing to associate with criminals and he was committing crime once more.

"Bradley Wernham was given a chance and chose not to take it. He will now have to bear the consequences of that decision and serve his sentence."

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