A WOMAN returned to her home in Newent and was confronted by a burglar inside, Gloucester Crown Court heard.

The would-be thief, Darren Smart, had previously carried out breaks-in across the country, the court was told.

Smart ran towards the woman after she disturbed him as he tried to burgle her home in Culver Street in October 2020.

Police were on the look-out for Smart as he was believed to have been responsible for a burglary at Wooton-under-Edge earlier on the same day, October 22 2020, although he was never charged with that.

Prosecutor Neil Treharne said: “he homeowner of a property at Culver Street, Newent returned home after lunch that same day and when she enters the kitchen she notices broken glass and hears banging from another room, whereupon Smart runs towards the woman.

“He runs right past her and slips up and falls on the broken glass. He gets up and makes his escape through the broken glass and meets up with another man outside and makes their escape in a blue Ford Focus.

“The woman realises that Smart had made an untidy search of the property and items of jewellery had been stolen, including three rings, a sapphire diamond ring, a diamond trilogy ring and a diamond and platinum engagement ring and a key fob to a high value car.

The court heard that police put an alert out for the Ford Fiesta, which was later actioned by West Mercia Police at 2.30pm. When spoken to, Smart admitted to the police that he did not have a driving licence or insurance. The police searched the vehicle and found items including a crow bar, angle grinder and other tools.

“Smart also had fragments of glass in his right shoe, which matched that of the glass from the Newent burglary earlier that day. In interview he denied committing the burglary.”

The Newent burglary was one of six which also included offences in Skegness, Newmarket, Gloucester, Oxfordshire and Derbyshire.

Mr Treharne concluded: “Smart has undertaken his own ‘Tour of Britain’ by committing burglaries. It seems wherever he goes he cannot resist targeting properties to burgle.”

Jim Tilbury defending said: “Smart has made significant progress and has sought help for his multitude of addictions which, includes gambling, and his mental health issues.

“Whilst he has been remanded in prison, he has undertaken a number of courses in connection with the construction industry. 

“However he is a vulnerable man in custody.

“There is little point mitigating for a community-based sentence as its obvious there is only one outcome today, a custodial sentence. 

“Smart has written to the court and the letter shows that he is remorseful about his actions and he describes it as ‘disgusting behaviour’ and he also recognises what he did was so wrong."

Smart, also known as Darren Hurst, admitted to a non-dwelling burglary at a caravan park in Skegness on June 4, 2020, attempted burglary in Newmarket, Suffolk. on August 21, 2020, the burglary in Newent on October 22, 2020 and driving offences on the same date; burglary at Marston Oxfordshire on December 16, 2021 and burglary in Derbyshire on October 13, 2022 and assaulting two police officers.

Judge Ian Lawrie KC told Smart: “You are before this court for a number of burglaries committed around the country for which I have no option but to impose a custodial sentence of three years and nine months.

“This is because of the geographical spread and the number of offences, which along with others, some of whom have already been dealt with, indulged in this sequence of burglaries.

“The gravity of your offending continues a pace as you have already been convicted for ten previous burglaries. However, I have taken into account your mitigation and your difficult upbringing and your ongoing issues as highlighted in your pre-sentence report.”

Smart’s driving licence will be endorsed for the offence of no licence.