A THIRD strike burglar was spared the mandatory three year jail sentence.

William Gifford, 36, faced the mandatory minimum sentence when he came before Swindon Crown Court this week after admitting his third house raid since June.

The alcoholic, whose drinking was linked to mental health issues in particular anxiety and Asperger’s syndrome, broke into a neighbour’s home in Minety on September 19 while she was out for the morning.

Another neighbour spotted Gifford running away from the house with three bottles of booze and gave chase. They told him to put the alcohol back. Gifford’s parents later helped to repair the doors damaged during their son’s break in bid.

The burglary was committed while he was on licence.

In June, Gifford was jailed for 12 weeks when he appeared before the same Basingstoke district judge who had just days earlier given him a suspended prison sentence.

He was originally before the court on June 3 when he admitted four counts of burglary and was given a 16 week suspended sentence. A day later, he stole two boxes of beer from a neighbour’s doorstep in Minety.

Mitigating after the latest offence, Tony Bignall asked the crown court judge on Thursday to find that it would be unjust to impose the mandatory minimum sentence.

His client had developed a plan while on remand to address his offending. It included pledges to work with Alcoholics Anonymous and volunteer with various local charities.

“He’s been sat with plenty of time to think,” Mr Bignall said. “That plan is, in my submission, sincere and given the fear that he’s had of your honour not finding it would unjust to impose a minimum sentence he has been truly frightened while he’s been in prison.”

The defendant had the offer of employment with his father’s company and could live with his parents upon his release from prison.

Gifford, of Upper Minety but appearing in court via video link from Bullingdon prison, pleaded guilty to burglary.

Recorder Anna Midgley said it would be unjust to impose the minimum sentence, noting the relatively low level of the offending and the impact his mental health issues had had on his behaviour.

She imposed a 14 week prison sentence suspended for two years. Gifford must wear a GPS tag for six months, complete up to 40 rehabilitation activity days and a six month alcohol treatment programme.

Recorder Midgley told Gifford she understood that rehabilitation would take time, but warned: “The courts won’t give you infinite time and patience will run out and you simply cannot continue to offend in the way that you have been.”