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'Not very good' burglar left his DNA at the scene of school break-in

St Edwards School and, right, Raymond Starkings' custody shot Picture: OM/TVP
St Edwards School and, right, Raymond Starkings' custody shot Picture: OM/TVP

A ‘not very good’ professional burglar left his DNA at the scene of two break-ins, a court heard.

Raymond Starkings, who was jailed last year after being caught red-handed pilfering belongings from a cricket pavilion while the players were on the field, left behind a bottle of Coca-Cola when he burgled St Edwards School last July and a cigarette end at another break-in days later.

Jailing the 34-year-old for three years at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday, Judge Michael Gledhill KC said: “You are a serial burglar. You are a professional burglar.

“You might not be very good at it, in the sense that you leave items at the scene of the burglaries that directly link you to the burglaries and I have no doubt at all that you were acting, as it were, on the spur of the moment.”

Earlier, prosecutor Peter Pride said the break-in at St Edwards School, North Oxford, was discovered by cleaners on July 15 last year.

He had rifled through belongings left behind by absent students, entered a staff member’s flat and also went through drawers and removed a safe in a school office.

The staff member whose flat he raided said that she ‘broke down in tears’ when she discovered what had happened.

Among the items taken were cash, a purse and ‘various items of school uniform’.

Within days, on July 19, Starkings took advantage of an open back door to break-into a ground floor flat in a sheltered housing block. The occupant, an elderly man enjoying a mid-afternoon nap, woke to find the burglar standing in the doorway.

He chased the thief out but was unable to catch-up with him. He discovered that his wallet and phone were missing.

Although the victim went to the bank to inform them of the stolen wallet, his bank card had already been used in two transactions in Botley.

Starkings, formerly of Home Close, Carterton, pleaded guilty to two counts of domestic burglary. He had 32 previous convictions and was a ‘third-strike’ burglar, meaning the judge was required to pass a three year jail term unless it was unjust.

Emma Hornby, mitigating, argued that it would be unjust. Preparations had been underway to release her client from a two year jail sentence imposed last September when he was charged in August with the two new burglaries.

It was ‘very unfortunate’ that all matters were not dealt with at the same time last year, she said.

The court heard Starkings had a ‘tough childhood’, was expelled from school at 14, first went to prison a week before his 16th birthday and had ‘never really been home since’. Ms Hornby said his was a ‘life blighted by drugs’.

During his latest period in custody he had completed GCSEs in maths, English and German. He enjoyed landscaping and gardening.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward