A judge was slammed after a prolific career criminal he sent on a ”soft option” community course was jailed for committing his 367th burglary.
Jobless Dean Sarney, 26, who already had convictions for 123 raids, admitted 243 burglaries at a hearing last March to fund his crack cocaine and heroin addiction.
Judge Martin Griffith took pity on Sarney at St Albans Crown Court and sent him on a supervised drug rehabilitation course to be served in the community.
But the lenient judge was yesterday accused of lacking ”common sense” after Sarney stole a laptop from a home just months into his course – his 367th raid.
Sarney, of Hatfield, Herts., was finally jailed for four-and-a-half-years at St Albans Crown Court on Monday for breaching the three-year community order and the latest burglary.
Welwyn Hatfield Tory councillor Caron Juggins said it was ”staggering” that Sarney had not been jailed earlier.
She said: ”Anyone with an ounce of common sense would surly know if he wasn’t put in jail last time he would just commit a burglary again.
”For a judge to let someone back into our community after this many burglaries is far too lenient.
”We put trust in experts like judges to make decisions on our behalf. I’d imagine if you committed this amount of crimes you would expect to be jailed.”
Sarney admitted the string of 243 burglaries across Hertfordshire over the past 10 years on March 11 last year.
He told the court he broke into houses between November 30 2000 and January 26 2009 to pay heroin and cocaine cocaine dealers.
Judge Griffith spared Sarney jail and put him on Hertfordshire Constabulary’s drugs rehabilitation Choices and Consequences programme, also called C2.
During the course Sarney was supervised up to four days a week and sent on intensive drug treatment and training.
He even became a mentor for other drug users and carried out volunteer work at a furniture store.
Yet Sarney struck again on April 19 this year stealing a laptop from a house in Vicarage Lane, Hertford.
In 2007 Sarney admitted being part of a gang which carried out 123 burglaries across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Essex, Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire.
The gang earned £1.1m from stealing cars and other expensive household items.
Sarney was jailed for four-and-a-half-years at St Albans Crown Court in 2007 but released halfway through his sentence.
Det Insp Stuart Campfield, of Hertfordshire police, defended the community course but said Sarney was not the first prolific criminal on the programme to return to a life of crime.
He added: ”This programme isn’t a soft option because ultimately you will end up being jailed.
”This was not a failure it is just a case he must now be dealt with in custody for a period of time.
”I firmly believe it was right to put him on the programme, but I am disappointed.”
Only the most prolific criminals in Hertfordshire are put on the C2 programme, which was set up in 2007, Det Insp Campbell added.