A burglar with a ‘truly, astonishingly bad’ criminal record tried to force open a window - in a cry for help.

Martin McDonagh committed the attempted burglary because he hoped to be arrested, as his mental health and drinking had spiralled out of control during lockdown.

Oxford Crown Court heard the 46-year-old was caught on CCTV breaking into the garden of a house in Chalfont Road, Oxford, on June 7.

He broke the lock to a shed then tried to use a tool from the outhouse to lever open ground floor windows. He fled empty handed when the burglar alarm began to sound.

Several months earlier, on February 20, he was seen stealing a bike from the side passage of an Islip Road home.

The court heard he had 48 convictions – including a number for house burglary. Judge Ian Pringle QC, who described McDonagh’s list of previous convictions as ‘truly astonishingly bad’, said of the record: “He’s got the distinguished feature on his record that he’s got now more convictions than years he’s lived on this earth.”

Jailing him for 10 months, the judge told the defendant: “Ultimately, your alcohol consumption is going to be determined by what you want to do. There are agencies out there that can help people who have your alcohol problems.”

He added: “It’s down to you, Mr McDonagh.”

Prosecutor Laura Hollingbery said police linked the defendant to the attempted break-in from the CCTV footage.

When he was arrested on June 16 he initially denied committing the burglaries but admitted being present.

He was interviewed later that day and said he’d been riding his bike on Chalfont Road when he heard the burglar alarm and saw two men he recognised from prison near the property. He was then shown the CCTV footage of him and changed his story ‘multiple times’, Ms Hollingbery said.

The owner of the Chalfont Road property was on holiday when McDonagh tried to break in.

McDonagh, of Wolsey Road, Oxford, pleaded guilty at the magistrates’ court to theft and attempted burglary.

Martin McDonagh's custody shot

Emma Hornby, mitigating, said her client had moved back in with his mother during the pandemic after his father fell ill. The strain of being away from his family caused his mental health to spiral and had exacerbated his alcoholism.

“The one way he thought he could try and get himself out of this was to find himself before the courts again,” she said.

After the attempted burglary he had panicked and realised how much family members would lose if he were sent back to prison. He was motivated to address his alcohol issues, completing courses while in prison on remand. He was proud of having completed his last licence period without reoffending.

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