South Shields burglar caught by DNA after flicking cigarette butt at scene when he targeted Sunderland family home

A bungling burglar who was smoked out by police after flicking a cigarette butt as he fled the scene has kept his freedom.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 13th November 2020, 4:37 pm

Graham Liddle, who has 202 convictions, fished car keys through the letterbox of a family home in Sunderland and made off with an Audi that was parked on the driveway.

CCTV captured the 51-year-old as he discarded a cigarette butt in a neighbour's garden, before he cruised off in the Audi, which was later found dumped two miles away.

The cigarette butt was later retrieved and sent away for forensic testing, and returned a positive match for Liddle's DNA.

Graham Liddle, who has 202 convictions, fished car keys through the letterbox of a family home in Sunderland and made off with an Audi that was parked on the driveway.

Liddle, of Downham Court, South Shields, admitted burglary, theft of a motor vehicle, driving without a licence and having no insurance.

Prosecutor Michael Cahill told Newcastle Crown Court the owner had left her car keys on a table when she went to bed and they were gone the next morning, along with her vehicle.

CCTV footage captured Liddle flicking a cigarette.

Mr Cahill said: "Police attended and recovered the footage. They looked where the cigarette butt had been flicked and saw a cigarette butt in the next door garden.

"The butt was analysed for DNA and a match was made to the defendant."

Judge Penny Moreland sentenced Liddle to two years imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with drug rehabilitation requirements and a four month night time curfew.

Judge Moreland said Liddle has a "terrible record" but now has a prospect of rehabilitation after detoxing from drugs while in custody on remand.

Glen Gatland, defending, said Liddle spent time behind bars after the offence and has had no drugs or alcohol since.

PC Shaun Smith, of Northumbria Police’s Southern Burglary Team, said after the conviction: “Liddle is somebody who is well-known to police and has shown a constant disregard for both the law and his community.

“His latest crime saw him fish a set of keys from through the letterbox while the occupants were asleep upstairs. He then was caught on CCTV getting into the car and nonchalantly driving away.

“Unfortunately for him, his deception was laid bare after officers found a small cigarette butt that had been discarded in a garden near the scene.

"That item came back as a forensic match and can be used to prove his guilt in court.

“This was a fantastic outcome - some brilliant police work led to Liddle’s conviction, with the defendant pleading guilty to all offences with the weight of evidence against him overwhelming.

“We make no apology for our robust approach towards burglars and thieves – and we will continue to do all we can to make sure these offenders are caught and put before the courts.”

Pc Shaun Smith, of Northumbria Police’s Southern Burglary Team, said: “Liddle is somebody who is well-known to police and has shown a constant disregard for both the law and his community.

“Unfortunately for him, his deception was laid bare after officers found a small cigarette butt that had been discarded in a garden near the scene."

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