Addict trashed a city school after break-in

A drug addict who trashed a Norwich school pleaded with magistrates to send him jail so he could come out 'clean'.

David Neale, 31, caused nearly �370 worth of damage when he broke into Bignold Primary School, in Wessex Street, Norwich.

Appearing at Norwich Magistrates' Court yesterday, he pleaded guilty to entering the school as a trespasser with intent to steal and damaging property inside worth �364.52.

Neale asked his solicitor Alison McManus to urge magistrates to jail him, so he could come out of prison 'clean'.

Magistrates duly imprisoned him for 18 weeks, of which he will serve half the sentence and then be on licence.

Neale also admitted breaching a conditional discharge of six months imposed on October 6 for a shoplifting offence. Prosecuting, Denis King said Neale, from Theobald Road, Lakenham, broke into the school at about 11pm on November 23.

He was caught after police matched his DNA with blood found on some of the damaged furniture in the school's reception.

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Mr King said: 'The alarm sounded and the caretaker was contacted via an automated telephone call. When he arrived, the reception office was trashed, but nothing was stolen.

'A witness in bed at an address near the school had heard banging and seen people run across the school playground, and then climb a wall on to Wessex Street.

'A member of staff said that a window in the office was broken, and that furniture and a fax machine were also damaged.'

Mr King said crime scene investigators attended and CCTV footage showed two people at the site, but the second person has not been traced. Neale was arrested in December and admitted the offence in interview.

He said he had been drinking and cut his hands after putting a brick through a school window, which left his blood at the scene.

In mitigation, Miss McManus said Neale had been addicted to crack and heroin for 10 years and it cost him, on average, �50 to �100 a day.

She said: 'He has come here today and he's very realistic. His best shot at getting over this is to go into prison and come out clean, so I would urge you to consider only custody as an option.'

She offered no reason why Neale broke into the school other than that he was in the area at the time.