Judge borrows line from 70s comedy Porridge as he locks up career criminal

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A judge borrowed a line from the 70’s sitcom Porridge as he jailed a burglar, just like the show’s main character. Judge John Edwards said 48-year-old Alan Wild treated imprisonment as an ‘occupational hazard’, the same quote used in the introduction to the BBC prison comedy.

Like Porridge’s star Norman Stanley Fletcher, portrayed by Ronnie Barker, Wild is a burglar. Wild was arrested again after three break-ins at commercial premises in Oldham.

His lawyer appealed for Wild to be spared jail, claiming he had gained ‘new insight’ into his crimes after being burgled himself. But Judge Edwards told him: ”You have been in and out of courts now for offenses of dishonesty for 21 years and the sad fact is in my view the court is an occupational hazard for you.

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“If you carry on in this way, you’re simply going to become institutionalized.” He added: ”I understand you yourself were the victim of a burglary so you must know what it is like.

“Burglaries at commercial premises may not necessarily cause trauma or distress but rest assured the inconvenience and loss to small business such as these are profound. As important as your personal circumstances are, I’m afraid punishment and protection of the public is at the heart of this sentencing process.”

In Porridge, Fletcher was ordered to serve five years behind bars at the fictional Slade prison for breaking and entering and stealing a lorry. In the introductory voice-over provided by Barker at the beginning of every episode, the fictional judge said: ”Norman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought by this court, and it is now my duty to pass sentence.

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Ronnie Barker as Norman Stanley Fletcher and co-star Richard Beckinsdale as Lennie Godber

”You are a habitual criminal, who accepts arrest as an occupational hazard, and presumably accepts imprisonment in the same casual manner. We therefore feel constrained to commit you to the maximum term allowed for these offenses – you will go to prison for five years.”

Wild was jailed for 27 months during a hearing at Minshull Street Crown Court, after he admitted two charges of burglary and one of burglary with intent to steal. Prosecuting, Hayley Bennett said Wild’s latest offenses were committed between June and September last year.

In one burglary Wild stole a TV set worth £600 from a firm on a trading estate and in another break-in at a communications firm, he grabbed computer and electrical equipment worth £2,200. A third victim who suffers from cancer discovered his work premises from him was being burgled when he was alerted by his alarm company from him.

Wild fled but he was seen on CCTV cameras. A total of £600 worth of damage was caused to a door. One business owner who has since relocated offices in the hope of getting better security said: ”Work was particularly challenging to find during the pandemic and the additional cost and downtime caused by this burglary had a serious impact on the service we pride ourselves in offering to our customers.”

The third victim said: ”This business is my life and I have set it up to help me stay busy after being diagnosed with cancer. I do not have any children so I treat this business like my baby. Everyone involved in the business and who helps me is like my family.

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”The only reason I get out of bed in the morning is for my business and to put the work in to help it grow. To think someone broke into a place I considered to be so precious hurts me more than anyone can imagine.”

Wild has an ‘unenviable record’ of house burglary and break-ins at commercial premises, the court heard. He was jailed for 18 weeks in November last year for another burglary and was on license when he was charged over the latest burglaries.

Defending, Megan Tollitt said: ”He has expressed remorse and deeply regrets his behavior and has had some new level of insight into these burglaries. He is motivated to change.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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