A gambling addict and prolific burglar who fed his compulsion by raiding schools has been jailed for 40 months.
Peter Everall sneaked into Hollins Technology College in Accrington and when stopped by staff tried to con his way out of the burglary by saying his car had been damaged and he was chasing the children responsible.
Burnley Crown Court heard how he ‘had his cover story all set’ and was ‘so convincing’ the staff unknowingly played along.
The next day staff realised their mistake after spotting damage to drawers and CCTV showing Everall in the building.
The 42-year-old, who has committed 252 previous offences including 136 burglaries or attempted burglaries, pleaded guilty at Burnley Crown Court to four counts of burglary.
Stephen Parker, prosecuting, told the court how Everall was stopped in the school at around 7.30pm on March 9 this year.
He said: “A staff member confronted the defendant who explained his vehicle had been damaged and had followed the children he believed to be responsible into the school.
“At that stage he didn’t think it was anything strange as the person he was speaking to was quite confident.
“He went with him and did a brief tour of the school to find the children who might be responsible but didn’t find any.”
The court heard how Everall, of Hudrake, Haslingden, also burgled schools in Rawtenstall and Clitheroe and a pub in Darwen.
Timothy Storrie, defending, said Everall’s record was ‘terrifically serious’ and was due to his ‘gross and enduring addiction to gambling’.
He said: “His motivations are to obtain frequent but relatively small amounts of cash and pass them to bookmakers to feed his addiction. His continued participation in betting is essentially beyond rational explanation.
“His life couldn’t be any more catastrophic.”
Recorder Tania Griffiths QC said these were ‘extremely serious offences’ and Everall targeted schools when children were ‘at or likely to be around’.
Sentencing, she said: “For parents to know that their children are in the presence of somebody like you or could be, or that there could be a confrontation would horrify them.
“You are a parent yourself. You wouldn’t want people like you around their children. I’m not suggesting you are a risk to children but you are not the sort of person that, when a parent drops their child off to school and gives them a kiss on the cheek or waves them goodbye, expects the chance that you might be around.”