We all know what a woman scorned etc, etc can mean. Brian Waite, a resident of Swindon, had his own lesson on this in March of this year. He had been in a relationship with Corrina Finney for 18 months, before it came to an end.
Thinking all had concluded, Mr Waite went off to the Cheltenham Festival on 14th March. He returned to find that his flat had had been stripped bare with everything, including the carpets, having been taken.
It didn’t take long for suspicion to fall, correctly as it happened, on Ms Finney. She admitted to the theft and was sentenced on 12th May 2014 to a 15 month Community Order.
As to the reasons why she did this, Ms Finney stated that she had ‘snapped’ after she discovered that Mr Waite had been using dating websites whilst they were still together and trying to resolve the difficulties in the relationship.
We are told that “a lot of [the property] was later recovered but some items, including his clothing, carpets and food, were never recovered.” It seems that although the losses totalled thousands of pounds (as you’d expect), there was about £950 worth of goods outstanding.
Why wasn’t this a burglary?
Alright clever clogs. The short answer is that it almost certainly was – any theft within a building will be a burglary. Whilst ‘trespassing’ is an element of burglary, following the case of R v Smith & Jones 1976 3 All E R 54, if someone enters a building in excess of the permission given to them, then it will be a burglar. Here, Mr Waites may well have let Ms Finney in if she popped around for a cup of tea, but he wouldn’t have allowed her to come in to steal his stuff – hence this is a burglary.
To start the sentencing exercise is it necessary to flip to page 13 of the Theft Guidelines (not the burglary ones). Here, this is in the lowest category which gives a starting point of a Community Order and a range of a fine up to 18 weeks custody.
Where the “Offender [is] motivated by intention to cause harm or out of revenge ” this is an additional aggravating feature. I would imagine that the large amount of property taken, and the method whereby the theft was undertaken, are further aggravating features.
As against that, there was a guilty plea, there is no indication of any prior criminal activity and, whilst we are not saying that Mr Waites was in any way to blame, the circumstances are such that it is clearly less serious than if a random person was targeted. Many people will find the case somewhat amusing and, whilst it is perhaps right that it is marked by the courts, I certainly think it is not so serious that a custodial sentence was needed. Here Ms Finney, rightly or wrongly, felt wronged, and it was done as a spontaneous (albeit quite well planned) piece of revenge.