'Three-strike' burglar is jailed after breaking into two Norwich homes
PUBLISHED: 18:04 08 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:35 08 August 2019
A "three-strike" burglar who received €50,000 in compensation for historic child abuse but used alcohol as therapy has been jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Robert Hanley broke into two homes in Norwich and used a stolen debit card to help himself to more than £500, Norwich Crown Court heard yesterday.
Hanley, 50, of no fixed abode, has 56 convictions for 106 offences dating back to 1988.
He admitted two counts of burglary and one of fraud in June.
In 2009 he had received a "substantial" compensation payout for abuse he suffered as a child in Ireland, said Andrew Thompson, mitigating.
He said Hanley was a "victim of the Irish approved school system".
"By  he had developed a significant dependency on alcohol and committed crimes to fuel it," Mr Thompson added.
"He became totally consumed by using alcohol as a self-administered therapy. Quite probably this money exacerbated the problem."
Hanley had targeted two flats above shops in the city, one on Drayton Road and the other on Aylsham Road.
On June 9 the occupiers of the flat on Drayton Road had left their door on the latch so their children could come and go, prosecutor Martin Ivory said.
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The woman, nine months pregnant at the time, noticed a mountain bike had been taken from behind the door shortly after 5pm.
It was seen on CCTV nearby, being walked by Hanley, who officers immediately recognised.
On June 17 on Aylsham Road the occupier returned home from work around 7.30pm.
She found two mobile phones and a wallet had been taken, and soon £503 was withdrawn from her account in three transactions.
"Within the wallet were not only bank cards but her late mother's identity card, photos of her children, and photos of her mum - the only ones she had," Mr Ivory said.
"She was particularly upset at the loss of those. She says: 'It is so horrible someone can come into your house and take things that are irreplaceable'."
Mr Thompson said Hanley was ashamed of what he had done.
"When he reaches prison and sobers up he feels tremendous guilt at the way he has behaved.
"He doesn't like the person he has become."
Judge Anthony Bate jailed Hanley for 876 days as a 'three-strike' burglar.
Judge Bate will also write to the Secretary of State to urge "careful thought" is given to Hanley's licence conditions to prevent reoffending.