Prolific offender and troublemaker Catherine Barnes burgled home while occupant sat in living room

A burglar brazenly strolled into an occupied home and stole cash before looking the home owner in the eye and running out.

Long-term drug user Catherine Barnes, 37, formerly of Perranporth and Camborne, appeared at Truro Crown Court to be sentenced after admitting one charge or burglary along with two thefts.

Prosecuting barrister Gareth Evans told the court how in Newquay on July 12, 2017, her victim was in the lounge socialising with his friends when Barnes happened to walk past.

Barnes entered the ground floor room through a partially opened window and, when the man heard a noise and went to inspect the room, she stepped out and left via the front door.

Mr Evans said: “When the man went and checked in the wardrobe he found that £100 was missing. Police were called and enquiries were made. Fortunately CCTV covered a part of the building and showed the defendant walking past the house before turning and going back.

“She then lifted the partially opened window and climbed in before leaving by the front door. Two minutes later she returned and climbed in again before leaving, followed by the victim.

“Fingerprints were found at the point of entry an Ms Barnes was arrested. She told police she took the money to buy drugs.”

Mr Evans also told the court how on June 27 of last year Barnes went into Goonhavern Stores and lied to a cashier about being due a refund despite not having a receipt. She eventually left with alcohol worth £18.

On the evening of September 26 at Tesco in Redruth, Barnes was caught on CCTV selecting a number of items before proceeding to stuff some of them into a shoulder bag and paying for the others prior to leaving the store. She was caught on CCTV concealing some of the items and told police: “I went in and saw some things I couldn’t afford.”

Defending Barnes, Chris Nicholls said his client had significant involvement with drugs over many years but had complied with Addaction, reconciled with her mother and sorted stable accommodation for the first time in a long time saying she had “made significant progress in becoming drug free”.

Mr Nicholls pleaded with Judge Simon Carr not to impose the automatic three-year jail term for somebody convicted of a third domestic burglary due to Barnes’ progress since the crimes were committed.

Judge Carr said: “You broke into a property and stole cash and the aggravating feature is that people were present on the premises at the time.

“I accept you have a long and entrenched battle with heroin but you have been before the courts on a number of occasions including for two other domestic burglaries in 2011 and 2014 and on each occasion the court took the exceptional course of a suspended sentence to try an assist you.

“You failed to comply with each suspended sentence and since then other crimes have been committed.

“I acknowledge you have tried to address the demons that have bothered you for so long but the sad feature is that drug addiction is nearly always the reason behind domestic burglaries.”

Judge Carr then proceeded to sentence Barnes to 30 months in prison, of which she must serve half.