On 6 January 2016, Carl Nicholson, 44, was given an immediate custodial sentence of 30 months for burglary.
The news reports state that Nicholson appears to be obsessed with women’s clothing and would steal items from houses and off washing lines.
Unfortunately for Nicholson, he has previous for exactly the same behaviour. The instant offences were committed just five days after being sentenced to a two-year suspended sentence order. Nicholson pleaded guilty to burglary, though it is not known how many items/houses/counts were involved.
The news report states that he has stolen items from 120 homes, although it is unclear whether that figure relates just to this set of offences, or his entire offending history.
Nicholson’s representative described him as “a persistent rather than a professional burglar who was keen to address the problems that led to his offences”.
HHJ Erik Salomonsen, sentencing Nicholson to immediate custody of 30 months, told him: “You have a very long record for burglary. You were given a chance last time and you have let down those who tried to help you.”
Additionally, as the instant offences were committed during the currency of a suspended sentence order – in fact just 5 days into the order – the judge decided to activate the suspended sentence, consecutively to the sentence for burglary in full. The total sentence was therefore one of 54 months or four and a half years.
As to the activation of the suspended sentence, it would seem incapable of criticism; the new offences were committed just five days into the order demonstrating that he had in no way engaged with the order or taken the opportunity given to him to stay out of prison.
As to the sentence for the burglary offences, it is difficult to comment on its length as we dont know the extent of the offending on this occasion. What we would say, however, is that the case does not fit within the burglary guidelines very neatly, not least because it is not your typical burglary where someone enters to steal items of value to then sell on. His motivation is entirely different and indicative of mental health problems. In that regard, his culpability may be significant reduced.
He pleaded guilty and so the 30 month sentence represents a 45 month sentence after a trial – that does appear to be on the high side. We also dont know whether the minimum sentence of 3 years applied by virtue of his previous convictions for domestic burglary.
Ultimately, the question has to be whether or not the total sentence is manifestly excessive. To go from a two year suspended sentence to a four and a half year immediate custodial sentence is quite a leap. However, having shown himself unable to comply with a non immediate custodial sentence (it appears he didn’t even attempt to) it is no surprise that Nicholson is now inside for a decent period of time.
We’ll wait to see if there is an appeal; that will no doubt rest on matters such as personal mitigation and whether or not the 45-month sentence after a trial is too high for the scale of the offending.