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 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 13:23 GMT
Poetic justice for prolific burglar
Court graphic
A prolific burglar with a talent for poetry has been spared jail in order to find his "path to salvation".

Mark Patterson, 42, of Deptford, south-east London, was arrested breaking into a neighbour's home armed with a machete while she was in hospital.

He has 31 previous convictions and pleaded guilty but was placed on an 18-month drugs treatment and rehabilitation order at the Old Bailey on Friday.

The court heard Patterson's earlier convictions were "classic" cases of offences committed by drug addicts to fund their addiction.

Natural talent

Judge Simon Goldstein told Patterson that the order would help him beat his addiction while the court kept tabs on him and his poetry ambitions would be "the motivation for you to succeed".

He said Patterson was looking for a publisher and enrolling in a course which would help him "put into words the undoubted natural talent which you have for language".

The judge added he had not lost sight of how serious the offence was but had decided to give Patterson a chance.

The ruling follows guidelines from Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, who said courts should try to deal with the underlying causes of burglary, such as drug addiction.


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20 Dec 02 | Politics
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