A DRUG addict from South Norwood who was given six years in jail for burgling a house on Christmas Eve has had his sentence almost halved on appeal. Colin Steven O'Brien, 49, of Penge Road, already had more than 100 convictions to his name when he struck last December. The thief was spotted by an off-duty police officer climbing over a fence after taking bikes, jewellery, a games console and games from the house in Penge. He admitted burglary at Croydon Crown Court and, with his long list of previous convictions taken into account, was given the six-year jail term in March. But on Wednesday, after an appeal by his lawyers, two senior judges said the sentence was too tough and slashed it to three years and nine months at the Court of Appeal. Mr Justice Foskett said O'Brien's record was an important factor, but the sentence had to reflect the seriousness of what he had actually done. "This was a burglary of unoccupied premises," said the judge, sitting with Judge Neil Ford QC. Mean "It was somewhat mean, as it was committed on Christmas Eve, but we don't consider that that could have made a substantial difference." The court heard a neighbour of the householder had seen O'Brien in the garden of the property and had even had a conversation with him, thinking he was there legitimately. He was later spotted by the off-duty police officer as he climbed over the fence, trying to drag a bicycle with him. All of the property was ultimately recovered. Mr Justice Foskett said O'Brien had been using drugs since he was 27 and had an "appalling record" of 102 separate offences, many motivated by his need for drugs. His appeal was allowed and the sentence cut to three years and nine months.
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