Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Knicker thief caught in stake-out

A MAN who stole knickers from a tumble dryer has been given a restraining order.

A MAN who stole knickers from a tumble dryer has been given a restraining order.

Nicholas Austin, 38, from Ipsden, pleaded guilty to five counts of non-dwelling burglary when he appeared at Oxford Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The court head that Austin, a forester, had taken about 30 pairs of pants between May and August this year after he heard voices telling him to do so.

He took the underwear from a tumbledryer in a shed within a private garden in Ipsden.

Carol Henry, prosecuting, said the 33-year-old victim decided to notify the police in May after nine pairs of knickers went missing in one load.

Mrs Henry said: “She first thought when her underwear seemed to go missing that it was like the black hole where the socks go. She really didn’t take much notice.”

Cameras were installed to try to identify the thief but Austin was wearing a hood and could not be identified. He was finally caught in the early hours of September 14 following a police stake-out. Officers sat inside the house on four separate nights waiting for the thief to arrive.

Mrs Henry said it took Austin just five seconds to locate the shed and enter it through a hole in the wooden panelling.

After his arrest, Austin admitted stealing the underwear and said: “I don’t know why I did it.”

He added: “I feel so sick and ashamed. It is like a bad dream. I just want to wake up.”

Austion also admitted stealing knickers from the washing lines of three other women.

Kirsty O’Connor, defending, said the thefts had been a “cry for help” by Austin.

She said: “At the time of the offence he was living alone and would often hear a voice telling him that it was something he should do. He felt a compulsion to do it. He had absolutely no intention and no understanding of the upset that was caused to her [the victim].”

Austin, who has moved back in with his parents following his arrest, had been prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping tablets by his doctor and had arranged to see a psychiatrist.

Mrs O’Connor said: “There have been no further offences. What he has done is very brave — he has accepted that he has a problem and it is something he needs help with.”

Magistrate Douglas Diss gave Austin a restraining order, restricting him from entering the woman’s property.

He was also given a two-month curfew that means he must stay at his home between 10pm and 5am.

Austin was ordered to pay £200 in compensation to Thames Valley Police, at the request of the main victim, and a further £60 which will be distributed between the other three three victims. He must also pay £85 in costs and a £60 victim surcharge.

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