A prolific offender from Southwick, who broke into the B&Q in Shoreham with a knuckleduster in his pocket, has been jailed following his 43rd conviction in Sussex.
Police were called to B&Q in Brighton Road, Shoreham, after an intruder alarm was activated at 5.30am on September 30, police said.
Officers attended and discovered a glass panel at the front of the premises had been smashed, and a number of boxed power tools – fitted with security tags – were discarded close by, police said.
A man was spotted inside the building, who then ran along one of the aisles towards a fire exit, according to police.
Further units arrived and a containment was put on the building, said police, before the suspect emerged from the rear, where he was detained and arrested.
He was identified as Stephen Wayne Slark, 41, a scrap metal dealer, of Butts Road, Southwick, confirmed police.
When challenged, Slark claimed to have nothing to do with the burglary, insisting he had stopped there to go to the toilet, a police spokesman said.
He was searched and a knuckleduster was found in his pocket, police said.
Slark made no comment in interview, however CCTV from the store showed only one person present at the time of the burglary, and fresh blood retrieved by crime scene investigators from the point of entry was proven by DNA analysis to belong to him, police confirmed.
Slark had driven to the store, despite being disqualified from driving for four years in April 2018, according to police.
On searching the vehicle, officers discovered more than £5,000 worth of power tools inside.
He was charged the same day with aggravated burglary and driving while disqualified, and was remanded in custody, said police.
The following day he was released by the courts with a monitoring tag to prevent reoffending.
However, less than two months later, on 24 November, Slark was further arrested after stealing hundreds of pounds worth of goods from Superdry in Brighton and threatening security guards, and while in custody he broke his monitoring tag, police said.
Police again remanded him in custody and this time he remained on remand, police said.
On 20 December, he pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary and driving while disqualified in relation to the B&Q incident, theft in relation to the Superdry incident and an assault from July, police confirmed.
Slark was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment at Lewes Crown Court on Friday, January 4, however his conviction triggered suspended sentences for further convictions in 2017 and 2018, which added another year to his sentence (four years’ imprisonment total), police said.
Detective Constable Noel Simmonds said: “The courts have repeatedly given Stephen Slark the opportunity to reform, and time after time he has thrown that compassion back in their face.
“It is concerning that he was carrying an offensive weapon with him whilst burgling B&Q and the sentence imposed shows that the courts shared the same concern.
“I can only hope that the sentence handed down by the Recorder, Paul Bowen, gives Her Majesty’s Prison Service enough time to address the causes of his offending, but at the very least the public will be protected from him for the next couple of years.”