A BURGLAR from Croydon has today been jailed for nine years for breaking into school premises and homes while armed with knives.
Hugh Charles O'Neill threatened one of his victims, who was with his two young children, when he broke into his house on 30 June 2013.
One the same day, after the victim had reported the crime and with the help of a tip-off from a member of the public, three Croydon police officers, PCs Jamie Filmer, Sean Keelan and Alec Lewis, chased and tackled O'Neill when he tried to escape from a caretaker's house on the school grounds of Davidson Primary School.
The officers were praised for their bravery after they managed to remove and throw away a large kitchen knife from O'Neill's pocket during the struggle, to stop him from using it. They later also found a lock knife, pen knife and glass cutter on him.
He was charged the following day with two counts of aggravated burglary, and was later linked through forensic evidence to, and charged with, another burglary in South Park Hill Road, South Croydon on June 25, 2013.
O'Neill, of Friends Road, Croydon, was given seven years for the two aggravated burglaries and two years, to be served consecutively, for the other burglary, at the Old Bailey today after being convicted at the same court on October 21.
Acting Detective Sergeant Eric Somerville, from Croydon CID, who led the investigation, said: "The judge praised the bravery of the three officers who tackled and arrested O'Neill when he was armed with several knives.
"They put themselves in real danger and their quick actions meant that an armed and dangerous criminal was arrested and taken off the streets.
"When we questioned O'Neill, he denied he was responsible for the burglaries and tried claiming that he was unaware of what he was doing because of prescription drugs he was taking.
"However, the medical evidence did not support this claim in the slightest and the jury rejected his defence that he was acting under the influence of his medication and was not responsible for his actions.
"O'Neill will now face the consequences of his actions, as he will be behind bars for a considerable time. The victim and his young family underwent a terrifying ordeal at the hands of O'Neill. I hope that this sentence will go a long way to provide them with peace of mind."