Burglars, perhaps more than any other group, demonstrate that prison is the only thing that will stop the persistent and dangerous in their tracks. We consider the case of one career criminal who burgled and killed after being released early from prison.
A recent example is Darren February, 33, who broke into the home of Simon Cowell – of X Factor fame – in London and stole a ring, earrings, watches and a diamond bracelet worth an estimated £950,000. February spent a full 17 minutes inside Cowell’s house, while the family slept, in the early hours of 4 December 2015.1‘My constant fear it could happen again’: Simon Cowell reveals his home raid terror’, MailOnline, 1 March 2017
February has 37 previous convictions for burglary – and a further 21 convictions for other offences – a small fraction of his total offending over two decades.2‘Serial burglar guilty of ‘terrifying’ raid on Simon Cowell’s house’, Daily Telegraph, 1 March 2017 At the time of the offence he had been released early, on licence, from prison. Judge Martin Edmunds sentenced February to eight years for the burglary and described his criminal history as “appalling”, adding:
I can find no gap in your record to show that you have, at any time since the age of 12, interrupted your offending and the current burglary is one committed whilst you were on licence (early release) for other burglary offences
Just days after committing the burglary, in December 2015, February was driving at speeds of up to 58mph on the wrong side of the road in a stolen car when he crashed head-on into a motorcylist, Kenneth Baldwin, a father aged 52. Mr Baldwin lay dying – while February chatted away on his phone.3‘Neglectful’ driver jailed for Holland Park hit and run that killed dad, GetWestLondon, 12 May 2016 February failed to stay at the scene and ran off. Paramedics declared Mr Baldwin dead at the scene. Remember, this all while on licence (early release) from prison for other burglary offences.4‘Simon Cowell burglar sentenced to eight years for £1m jewellery break-in’, Sky News, 1 March 2017
February has persistently demonstrated his inability to respect the rights – both to property and life – of others. Furthermore, had February – as a persistent and prolific offender – been required to serve his prison sentences in full, then countless families would not have been left traumatised by his burglaries and a family would not have been robbed of the man they loved.
Individuals like February, who are able to spend the bulk of their lives committing crime demonstrate the urgent need to overhaul the approach taken towards the prolific and persistent criminal in terms of their sentence, their eligibility for automatic early release, conditions imposed on them when returned to the community and/or parole processes.
In a statement from Simon Cowell, read at Court, he described a “constant fear that it may be repeated and that it may be worse next time”. Sadly, with the current approach towards prolific and persistent career criminals, such a fear should not be lazily dismissed. The criminal justice system at present is failing to keep the people of Britain safe from known, persistent criminals and, if we are the civilised society we claim to be, that must surely change.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||‘My constant fear it could happen again’: Simon Cowell reveals his home raid terror’, MailOnline, 1 March 2017|
|2.||↑||‘Serial burglar guilty of ‘terrifying’ raid on Simon Cowell’s house’, Daily Telegraph, 1 March 2017|
|3.||↑||‘Neglectful’ driver jailed for Holland Park hit and run that killed dad, GetWestLondon, 12 May 2016|
|4.||↑||‘Simon Cowell burglar sentenced to eight years for £1m jewellery break-in’, Sky News, 1 March 2017|