Spared prison by his victims: Hull man who smashed his way into elderly couple's home with fire extinguisher and demanded cash
A MAN who smashed his way into an elderly couple's home before demanding cash has avoided jail after his victims accepted his apology.
Lewis Burns, 21, used a fire extinguisher to break a window at the couple's home in Thornton Court, a sheltered housing complex in west Hull.
During a previous hearing, Burns had been warned he faced four years behind bars.
But in the first case of its kind, Judge Mark Bury delayed sentencing him for six months to see if he could keep out of trouble.
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It also gave the couple, both in their seventies, time to decide their tormentor's fate.
Last night, the woman, who asked not to be named, said: "I have forgiven him for what he has done. I accept his apology.
"He is only young and it sounds like he has been a good kid before. I have children and I wouldn't have liked to have seen them go to prison at that age.
"Hopefully, this will teach him a lesson."
Judge Bury asked police to contact the woman and the man, aged 73 and 78, to see if they would be willingly to meet Burns, who carries out voluntary work for the elderly, and accept his apology.
Although the victims were too distressed by the burglary to meet Burns, a father who had no previous convictions, they agreed to spare him prison after hearing how he had been able to keep out of trouble.
Judge Bury told Burns: "I gave you a marvellous opportunity to prove yourself and, through no fault of yours, you have not had the opportunity of doing that because, as a result of the publicity surrounding this case, you were sacked and you have not been able to save up any compensation.
"Despite preliminary suggestions these two unfortunate victims would be prepared to see you they have not in any event decided to do that.
"I have no criticism, one can well understand their sense of terror at this offence. It seems to me you would have been able to give them some encouragement about the sort of person you are and the totally isolated nature of this offence.
"It is important you have not reoffended. I will honour the promise I made to you back in June.
"If you do not comply with the order then I will send you to prison. You can put this rather sorry period of your life behind you and live a law-abiding future, hopefully in work.
"The seriousness of the offence merits a prison sentence in the region of four years and that is what you can expect if you do not comply."
Burns earlier told the Mail he wanted to apologise to his victims in person. He said he had no memory of the burglary and only found out what he had done when he was contacted by police.
Burns said: "I couldn't believe I had done something like that and I felt so sorry for the victims.
"There are no words to describe what I have done.
"I just want to apologise as much as I can."
Burns, of the Boulevard, west Hull, was given a 12-month community order and ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work.
Addressing Judge Bury, Burns' barrister Paul , said: "His victims agreed to see him but subsequently had second thoughts and decided against it. He has managed to stay out of trouble."
Burns had been drinking in the city centre and mixed his medication with alcohol prior to breaking into the house.
Burns, who has since been dismissed as a fitter at Shipham Valves, covered his face with a jumper, switched off the complex's CCTV system before breaking in.
The couple were woken by the noise and Burns repeatedly demanded they hand over their money.
It was only when they threatened to call the police that he ran off.
He was caught after leaving his blood at the scene.
Samples matched his DNA kept on the police national database, which he had been placed on in 2005 after receiving a caution.
It is the same sheltered housing complex that has been repeatedly targeted by thief and menace Aisha Delaney, who has now been given an Asbo banning her from the flats to give the residents some respite.
Burns pleaded guilty to the burglary, which happened on February 4, at Hull Crown Court.