Lincoln university burglar avoids jail

A burglar targeted Lincoln’s two universities to steal computer equipment, the city’s crown court was told today.

Ian Howsham carried out sneak-in raids over a six month period and went on to sell the stolen property on eBay to fund his drug addiction.

Lisa Hardy, prosecuting, said that Howsham initially targeted the University of Lincoln but, after being identified by security staff as an intruder, he switched to Bishop Grosseteste.

On one occasion he was challenged by a researcher at the University of Lincoln after he was seen acting suspiciously in a computer room.

Howsham was escorted out of the room but managed to flee through a fire door.

Howsham was subsequently identified from CCTV security footage and police carried out a raid on his home in January this year and recovered stolen computer parts.

Miss Hardy said: “All of the burglaries relate to the theft of computer equipment from university buildings. The total value of items stole is estimated at £3,925.

“He was a trespasser. He was targeting these buildings. He knew exactly where to go. On some occasions he sneaked in behind students. Other times he entered via fire doors.

“The first three burglaries relate to the University of Lincoln but it is clear that by November he knows they are on to him and he switches to Bishop Grosseteste.”

Chris Jeyes, in mitigation, said that Howsham had an entrenched drug habit which he was funding by selling the stolen items.

“This is a very sorry tale of how substance misuse can take over someone’s life but there is hope. He has sought help.”

Mr Jeyes said a psychiatric report identified Howsham as suffering from mental health illness arising from his drug use.

Howsham, 33, of Roman Pavement, Lincoln, admitted seven charges of burglary committed on dates between August 23 2017 and January 15 this year.

He was given a 12 month jail sentence suspended for two years with a nine month drug rehabilitation requirement and a 20 day rehabilitation activity requirement.

He was also given a four month electronically monitored night time curfew.

Judge John Pini QC, passing sentence, told Howsham: “I’m going to give you one chance and it is your last chance to get free from drugs.”