A LOSTWITHIEL man who burgled the house of a pensioner and stole money from charity boxes has escaped jail "by the skin of his teeth" after a judge granted him one last chance.
James Duguid, previously of Castle View, Lostwithiel, pleaded guilty to having burgled the home of a 70-year-old woman in Mill Hill, Lostwithiel, taking her £375 laptop and seven silver items.
The 20-year-old also admitted the theft of a purse containing £150 from an assistant's handbag in a local shop and stealing money from six charity boxes.
It emerged that Duguid – who was said to have been targeting elderly and vulnerable women – had three previous convictions and was in breach of a community order.
Judge David Ticehurst warned Duguid about his future behaviour and said: "You have escaped prison by the skin of your teeth."
Ramsay Quaife, for the defence, stated that Duguid had difficulty controlling his temper and consumption of alcohol and cannabis and that there was concern about his attitude.
"I am going to give you a chance but if you do not take it you will be brought before me in Bristol Crown Court and you will be sent to prison," added Judge Ticehurst.
The judge then asked Duguid whether he still smoked, to which Duguid replied that he bought £4 to £5 worth of tobacco each week. Judge Ticehurst declared: "In that case you can pay £5 a week compensation to the ladies from whom you stole a laptop and a purse."
Duguid's parents were in court to support him but they were not prepared to have him live at home until he had changed his habits.
Duguid, currently living with friends in Liskeard, was given a 12-month sentence in a young offenders' institution, suspended for two years, with supervision throughout.
He was ordered to do 300 hours of unpaid work – the maximum permitted – and to attend six sessions of an education and training programme.
He must also pay £525 in compensation at £5 a week "or more quickly if you get a job".