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Penrith burglar detained by victim while on stealing spree to clear drug debt

Michael Torrance

A BURGLAR went on a night-time stealing spree while aiming to clear a drug debt – but ended up being caught by one of his victims.‬

Carlisle Crown Court heard how the outbuildings of three rural addresses near Penrith were targeted in the early hours of 19th October.‬

CCTV captured two figures – including 36-year-old Michael John Torrance, of Norfolk Road, Penrith – leaving a farm building in the Stoneybeck area with a stolen chainsaw at around 3-50am.‬

Two other properties were also targeted at nearby Maidenhill. The owner of one heard a “bang” at around 5-15am. He ran outside towards a barn and shone a torch towards two intruders.‬ ‪“He was able to take hold of one of the males – the defendant (Torrance) – and detain him on the ground,” prosecutor Megan Tollitt told the court.‬

A hacksaw – stolen from an adjacent property along with hedge cutters and a leaf-blower – was found at that scene. The occupant of the address nearby had since described in a statement feeling “anxious, frustrated and angered” by the crime. Ms Tollitt said: “He worries constantly that Mr Torrance and/or his accomplice may return one day.”‬

Torrance was arrested and interviewed. “He referred to owing a lot of money from a previous drug debt and admitted he and the other male were out looking to steal,” added the prosecutor.‬

Torrance later admitted two non-dwelling burglaries and theft, and a third with intent to steal.‬ ‪He was due to have been sentenced for the three offences in court today (TUES). However, the case was adjourned‬ after his lawyer suggested a probation service pre-sentence report could offer punishment options other than immediate custody.

The judge, Recorder Lawrence McDonald, ordered a report but warned a prison sentence was still a possibility. Torrance is due to be sentenced on 7th January, and was remanded in custody until then.

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