Natasha Rudra April 17, 2012
A man who tried to burgle a Lyneham apartment was caught red-handed and shoeless when one of his victims got up to check on her daughter in the middle of the night, a court has heard.
Forrester Lindley-Jones, 43, told the horrified woman, ''I'm sorry, this was a stupid idea,'' and offered her money to let him go.
In the ACT Supreme Court yesterday, Lindley-Jones praised the victims for their swift reaction to his crime and told the court he broke into the apartment after taking a couple of pills from a random stranger.
The court heard the victim woke at about 1.55am on October 20 last year and noticed torch light in the next room.
She switched on the light and screamed when she saw Lindley-Jones standing in the room. He made a dash for the front door but was stopped by the woman and her husband, who was woken by her screams, telling the court he offered to stay until police arrived.
Police found Lindley-Jones' shoes outside the apartment near a window with a slashed flyscreen.
In his backpack they found a laptop, a ladies' watch, a packet of cigarettes, a bus card and $25 belonging to the couple.
Lindley-Jones has pleaded guilty to burglary and theft.
In a sentencing hearing yesterday, he read the court a letter he hoped to send to the victims, apologising for invading their home and stealing things from them.
''I commend you both for the way you handled the situation,'' he said.
''I apologise for my intrusion into your life and take full responsibility for my actions.''
Lindley-Jones gave evidence that he committed the crime about a day after being discharged from a three- or four-week hospital stay.
He had been under stress because he had ''big bills'' to pay and his housemate, who was also his best friend, had a serious mental illness and had not been coping well in his absence.
Lindley-Jones said he ran into a random stranger, whose name he did not remember, after trying to quiet down a noisy group in his street that night.
The man ended up drinking with him and offered him pills to relieve his stress, before suggesting they could get money by burgling a house.
Lindley-Jones said the other man chose the apartment and he believed the residents were not at home when he broke in.
He told the court he had a lengthy criminal history and had been ''pretty much a chronic alcoholic'' for years but had given up booze for the first time in his life and had stopped taking drugs.
He said he was now confident that he could start a crime free life.
''I've always been straight up with the court,'' he said.
But Crown prosecutor Amanda Jubb said it was too little too late.
''What I say … is that sorry is not going to take away the vivid memory for the victim of getting up at 1.55am and finding the defendant in her home,'' she said.