South Shields burglar jailed after leaving blood at scene of raid
A burglar who left blood smeared at his own crime scene has been put behind bars.
Northumbria Police said that Lee Hepplewhite, 33, initially refuted the suggestion that he had been involved in the burglary at North Marine Lodge, in South Shields, earlier this year.
But crime scene investigators spotted a small swab of blood on a washing machine inside the property, which ultimately helped lead to a conviction.
After smashing his way into the garage shortly after 3.30am on July 2, Hepplewhite cut his hand – and then fled as a resident heard the commotion and rushed out of bed.
But Hepplewhite failed to notice the blood smear that he had left for police – and forensic experts took the sample and proved it belonged to him.
Hepplewhite admitted burglary at a Newcastle Crown Court hearing this month and was jailed for nearly two-and-a-half years.
Detective Constable Neil Swainston, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is yet another case that highlights how forensics and scientific advancements are helping us identify, convict and subsequently take burglars off the streets of Sunderland and South Tyneside.
“The tiniest trace of blood, saliva, bodily fluid or fingerprint can now be detected by our fantastic crime scene investigators and used as irrefutable evidence to prove a person’s guilt in court.
“Hepplewhite is the latest in a line of raiders who have been convicted this year, and he will now spend the foreseeable future behind bars as a result of his selfish actions.
“We do not tire in bringing burglars to justice – it is such an intrusive crime that can have a long-lasting effect on not only the victims themselves, but the wider community as a whole who can grow increasingly anxious and frightened in their own home.
“That’s why it’s so important to show that cynical offenders like Hepplewhite, who brazenly broke into someone’s home in a bid to steal their belongings, are being taken off our streets and dealt with robustly for their actions.”
Hepplewhite, of Hatfield Square, South Shields, pleaded guilty to burglary on November 13 and was jailed for 876 days.