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Finally jailed: the teenage burglar who robbed victims of over £1m

A teenager who burgled hundreds of homes — stealing more than £1m worth of goods — has finally been jailed.

A controversial scheme which saw the prolific burglar initially avoid custody was defended as he was jailed for five years after reoffending.

Bradley Wernham (19) admitted hundreds of offences with police estimating he has stolen about £1.1m of goods, including sports cars, since he was 11.

The teenager was given an opportunity to turn his back on his life of crime when he appeared before Judge Christopher Ball QC last October to be sentenced for 17 thefts and burglaries, with another 645 being taken into consideration.

Instead of jail, Wernham was given a string of community penalties which included a three-year supervision order and a night-time curfew, and required him to carry out unpaid work.

It was the first time Essex Police had tried the “innovative” scheme, which the judge admitted that while a “gamble”, was the best course of action.

But months later, in January, Wernham attempted to burgle another house in Essex, where he carried out all his crimes.

Sentencing him yesterday to four-and-a-half years for the original offences, and a further six months for the attempted burglary, Judge Ball said Wernham's “immaturity” was to blame for him not fully engaging in the scheme.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard Wernham initially co-operated with the project by admitting 645 crimes — 300 of which were burglaries. Some had never been reported to police, and officers would have had no prospect of charging Wernham over the rest.

The judge described Wernham as a “prolific and successful burglar” whose criminality left no home or workplace safe, and added: “He was confessing simply everything he had done and got away with.

“The risk that I then took obviously has not ultimately resulted in the desired effect.”

Wernham, who will have the 376 days already served in custody for all the crimes taken off his sentence, smiled as he was led away.

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