Burglar who broke into house and stole dog says he was on 'rescue mission'

Keith Robinson
Keith Robinson -Credit:Merseyside Police

A burglar who smashed his way into a house and stole a dog claims he was on a "rescue mission".

Keith Robinson took the puppy after allegedly being told that it had been abandoned after its owner had died. However, he also helped himself to a television after breaking into the address.

Liverpool Crown Court heard yesterday, Wednesday, that the property's occupant, Caroline Unsworth, had left her five-month-old pet, a Boxer called Rocco, in her "locked and secured" home on Redgate Drive in St Helens at around 2pm on November 28 last year. When she returned at around midnight, she called out her dog's name but he did not appear.

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Eve Salter, prosecuting, described how the victim then noticed that the window of her living room had been smashed and a TV which had been mounted onto her wall was also missing. Ms Unsworth was "upset and afraid" and spent the night at a friend's house before reporting the burglary to Merseyside Police at around 12.30pm the following day.

Then, on December 1, an anonymous member of the public called the force to report that they had seen Robinson and his girlfriend returning to their flat on Appleton Road in the town on the evening of the break-in with a dog and a television, having seen a post from the complainant on social media appealing for information concerning her missing puppy. When officers attended their apartment, they discovered two canines - one of whom was Rocco - inside.

The 50-year-old answered the door and stated that he had "got the dog from a woman whose husband had died". Robinson made no comment in his first interview but during a second round of questioning, after being shown CCTV footage of himself, told detectives that he was "under the impression that the dog had been left in the house for a week as the owner he died".

He also said that the property "looked abandoned", with "dog dirt everywhere". The defendant reported that he had smashed a window in order to gain entry and cut himself on the broken glass, while he had gone on to sell the television for £20 having "assumed that the owner had died".

Robinson has a total of 33 convictions for 62 offences, including three for dwelling burglaries in the 1990s. Ken Grant, defending, told the court: "The plan was to liberate the animal that the defendant thought had been left, a puppy of some five months old.

"He was planning to go into the property and rescue the animal, and he succeeded in doing that. The intention was to rescue the animal, and the dog was returned in due course to its owner.

"He is now 50, and it is nearly 25 years since the commission of his last domestic burglary. Admittedly, there are offences committed after that of commercial burglary.

"There are problems that this man has had for many years. It is a problem which is common up and down the country, of individuals like him in the grip of drugs.

"He tells me that, in the last five-and-a-half months, he has become drug free. In the vice like grip of drugs, he succumbed to temptation in taking that television which he sold for £20.

"He is the author of his own misfortune to an extent. He has been unable to divorce himself from the need to take drugs. That is a personal tragedy for him. It is also a disappointment for the community in general.

"He is a man whose problem has been heroin. He has suffered health issues because of this. He himself uses the term declining physical health, and also declining mental health. His fate rests very much in his own hands."

Robinson admitted burglary. Appearing via video link to HMP Altcourse wearing a grey Emporio Armani jumper, he was jailed for 18 months.

Sentencing, Recorder Neil Owen-Casey said: "The crown have accepted the reason put forward as to why you committed this offence, that you were initially on a rescue mission. I remind myself that you are heavily convicted.

"It is 25 years since your last burglary. You are not someone who has consistently entered dwellings. You are somebody in the grip of drug addiction. This is a common theme through your offending history."

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