Serial thief went from hero to zero

BEHIND BARS ... prolific thief John Griffiths.
BEHIND BARS ... prolific thief John Griffiths.

A SERIAL crook once hailed a hero for saving the life of a retired policeman has been jailed for raiding a pensioner’s home.

John Griffiths broke into the South Shields home of the 85-year-old man in the early hours of Thursday, August 29, and made off with treasured belongings including jewellery.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the raid had made a “profound impact” on the victim, leaving him feeling “deeply upset” and vulnerable after his home was violated.

Griffiths, 30, of no fixed address, was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to burglary.

The court heard that he had previous convictions for house break-ins.

Judge James Goss said: “Anyone is upset by a burglary, but the older one gets, the more one becomes aware of insecurity and vulnerability.

“I am sure he was very upset by this. That is why offences of this kind are serious offences.”

The court heard that Griffiths was collared soon after the break-in, and the pensioner’s belongings were recovered.

Glen Gatland, defending, said Griffiths had been hailed a hero just weeks before the raid after saving the life of a retired police officer shot during London’s Broadwater Farm riots back in 1985.

Mr Gatland said: “He had collapsed and had not been found by anybody. He was diabetic.”

He said Griffiths had waited with the ill man until an ambulance arrived and had tried to help at the scene.

Mr gatland added: “The former police officer was two weeks in intensive care.

“Griffiths was told that without his prompt actions, he certainly would have died.

“There is some good in John Griffiths.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazette