Bungling thief nabbed after breaking leg during West Lothian break-in

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A hapless housebreaker in West Lothian broke a leg as he attempted to escape with his loot, a court heard.

Malcolm Millar injured himself when he jumped from a first floor window after neighbours caught him in the act of stealing jewellery from the home of a woman who was on holiday.

Millar appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court.

Millar appeared at Livingston Sheriff Court.

Although he managed to hobble away and hide in woods nearby a police dog handler tracked him down within minutes, Livingston Sheriff Court heard.

Millar, 32, from Livingston, West Lothian, pled guilty on indictment on Monday to breaking into a house on 11 July – the day after he was released from a prison sentence for a previous housebreaking.

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He admitted stealing £1,000 worth of costume jewellery along with an iPod and an iPad worth several hundred pounds and a pair of gloves from the property in Oldwood Place, Livingston.

Jim Robertson, prosecuting, said home owner Julie Whitelaw had gone on holiday at the beginning of July leaving the property empty.

He said: “She left a key with a neighbour to care for their cats. The neighbour had been attending each day around 9.30am and would check inside to ensure everything was in order.

“At 10 to 9 on morning of the offence she went in through the front door and on into the kitchen and saw the back door lying wide open.

“She shouted hello but nothing happened. She then heard a loud bang from upstairs, then a noise from the roof above the front door.

“Another neighbour saw the accused climbing out of a small window carrying a black backpack. He jumped to the ground and hurt himself as he landed.

“Both ladies went outside and saw the accused lying in some distress in the front garden. One said: ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ but the accused denied being in house.

“He said: ‘I think I broke my leg’ and tried to hobble away from the locus.”

Mr Robertson said police were contacted and officers arrived along with dog handler and searched the area.

He went on: “The accused was found hiding in wooded area close to the locus. He was struggling to put any weight on his foot and he admitted injuring himself jumping from window.”

Police found Millar’s black backpack in nearby shrubbery and searched him. They found 20 items of costume jewellery, the two electronic devices and the other stolen property and arrested him.

Mr Robertson said: “The first call was into hospital because he was injured leaving the premises in an unconventional manner.”

He was remanded in custody when he appeared in court from custody the following day.

Andy Aitken, defending, described Millar’s situation as “a sad and depressing one indeed” and admitted he had amassed a lot of previous convictions stemming from his misuse of drugs.

He told the court: “Despite various efforts over years been unable to resist that.

“It seems to be a situation that when he’s released from custody he suffers a period of homelessness and, having taken drugs, he returns to re-offending. It’s a sad cycle.

“He hopes that ultimately he'll be able to find some stability when he’s released. He does present as remorseful.”

Sheriff Douglas Kinloch allowed Millar, who entered the dock using a crutch, to remain seated while he passed sentence.

He told the accused: “It is indeed sad and depressing to see you sitting in the dock yet again charged with theft by housebreaking.

“You have many convictions for theft by housebreaking and have served recent numerous prison sentences and this was committed on the day you were released.

“Your solicitor has said you have perhaps become institutionalised and I wonder whether you committed this offence simply to get back into prison.

“You managed to flee and hide despite having broken a leg and an ankle maybe just through desperation to get money for drugs.”

He said a prison sentence was “inevitable” given Millar’s criminal record and jailed him for 32 months, backdated to 12 July when he was first remanded in custody.