A 23-YEAR-OLD prolific Brierley Hill burglar who got involved in a punch-up with a Dudley man who caught him raiding his home has been jailed for five years four months.
Judge Nicholas Webb at Wolverhampton Crown Court told Michael Richards it was an extremely serious offence because of the "violence offered to householder Geoffrey Deakin who was only trying to defend his property and apprehend you".
He warned that burglars who swapped punches with householders after being caught inside their homes would face "considerably increased sentences”.
The Judge told the court Richards, described as having a history of drug abuse: "When Mr Deakin confronted you and used wholly appropriate means to detain you, you were violent and you ended up using a candle holder to his head."
He said that could have had "dreadful" consequences for Mr Deakin who was continuing to suffer from the effects of the attack on his home in Hurst Road.
The Judge said that at the time of the offence Richards, who had 49 crimes on his record including ten previous burglaries, had clearly been "desperate" to get money to fund his drug habit.
Alka Brigue, prosecuting, said Mr Deakin had been celebrating Valentine's Day with his partner Sharron Hunt when they heard noises and, when he went to investigate, he found Richards at the top of his stairs.
A fight then began between the two men as a "terrified" Miss Hunt alerted police, with Mr Deakin chasing Richards around the house.
Richards, of John Street, then picked up a candle holder and struck Mr Deakin causing a small cut to his head while his accomplice outside shouted "kick him in the head”.
The two men continued to fight - with Richards throwing a punch that smashed the couple's TV.
He finally managed to flee upstairs and made his escape through a window onto a flat roof.
But he left blood at the scene, Miss Brigue said, so police were able to trace him through DNA testing.
James Turner, defending Richards - who admitted burglary while an occupier was subjected to violence, said he was surprised to be confronted by Mr Deakin because he thought the house was empty at the time.