By Court Reporter 04/07 Updated: 09/07 13:07
A MAN broke into women’s homes at night to steal their underwear which he then hoarded in his bedroom, a judge has heard.
Graham Lees pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to four charges of burglary and two of stealing more underwear from washing lines near his home.
The 32-year-old, of Victoria Road, who also admitted a further charge of producing cannabis, was jailed for a total of four years.
Prosecutor Warren Stanier said that at the beginning of July last year, Lees broke into a terraced house in Clarence Road while the people living there were away.
As well as stealing a games console and camera from the house, he stole items of ladies' underwear - a recurrent theme in his burglaries, according to Mr Stanier.
He burgled the same house again last September - this time when a 16-year-old girl was asleep in the living room with the family dog.
Lees disturbed the dog, and the girl awoke to find him standing in front of her. When she challenged Lees he made no reply and walked out.
The girl alerted her mother who came downstairs and, on hearing a noise outside, looked out of the window and came face to face with Lees who was still hanging around.
Mr Stanier said it had such a traumatic effect on the family, with the girl frightened of what might have happened if the dog had not woken, that they had decided to move.
In October, Lees targeted another house in Clarence Road, breaking in during the afternoon by removing beading from a rear lounge window.
When the woman who lived there with her two daughters got home she reported the break-in, but at first did not realise items of underwear had been stolen.
Later that month she was asleep in bed when Lees broke in at 6am through the same window.
She was disturbed by her bedroom door being opened and Lees walking into the room. When she screamed, Lees quickly left and slammed the door shut.
The woman was aware neighbours had suffered similar incidents but said she feels ‘victimised and singled out’ and is scared to stay overnight in her own home.
When she spoke to a neighbour the next day, that woman realised the break-in was probably connected to instances when underwear was stolen from her washing line.
Her housemate had also suffered similar thefts, so they reported their suspicions to the police.
And when Lees was arrested their underwear was among a number of bags of similar items recovered from his bedroom.
Officers also found the remnants of 12 cannabis plants he had grown for his own use.
Mr Stanier pointed out that in 2003, Lees had been given a three-year community order, later varied to a three-month jail term after he breached the order, for indecently assaulting a woman and stealing underwear from washing lines.
That time, he walked into her home and put his hand under the duvet while she and her boyfriend were asleep.
He was given another community sentence in 2005 for further thefts of underwear from washing lines.
Robert Hodgkinson, defending, said one psychiatrist who examined Lees ‘thinks he suffers from full-on obsessive compulsive disorder’ – but a second puts his behaviour down to ‘a mental disorder of sexual preferences, namely a fetish, a sexual attraction to women’s underwear since the age of 14.’
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