Bungling burglars caught by footprints in the snow


Hapless brothers who ran home after bungling three break-ins left a trail of footprints in the snow - leading police straight to their front doors.

Dale and Michael Coulson tried to burgle three houses in Dunbottle Lane and Sunways, Mirfield, early on February 11, but were disturbed.

Police spotted matching footprints at each address and followed them to a house in Orlando Close, London Park Estate, where one set split off.

Prosecutor Louise Reevell said: “Outside was a pair of wet trainers which matched the footprints from the properties.

“Michael Coulson was at the bottom of the stairs texting. He was sweating and his socks and shorts were wet.”

Officers found a bag containing clothes and a balaclava under his bed and a ‘burglary kit’ of tools, a torch and wire cutters in his bedside cabinet.

Police then followed the second set of footprints to an address in Northway Crescent, London Park Estate. A woman and two men there said they knew nothing about the footprints, but officers searched the house - and found Dale Coulson hiding in the loft.

Both brothers earlier pleaded guilty to three counts of attempted burglary.

The court heard Dale Coulson had a criminal record stretching back to 2000 for offences including theft, assault, criminal damage, breaching ASBOs, threatening behaviour, handling stolen goods, robbery and intimidating witnesses. He had been locked up at least four times.

Michael Coulson, 20, had two convictions for cruelty to an animal and receiving stolen goods.

Mrs Reevell said the victims had been left very frightened by the attempted burglaries, including one 61-year-old woman who police said was shaking and crying hysterically.

Mitigating for Dale Coulson, Richard Canning said he was institutionalised and found life difficult outside prison.

He said: “He is not a bad lad at heart. He is adamant these thefts were his idea and he put pressure on his brother. He is very sorry.”

Mr Canning said Coulson wanted to join the Foreign Legion, adding: “He can’t adapt to living in this country on benefits without a job.”

Mitigator Sam Andrews said Michael Coulson was depressed following a relationship breakdown, adding: “He is not really motivated to do very much with his life.” He said he was sorry for his actions.

Judge David Hatton QC said Dale Coulson had an ‘appalling’ record. He said: “If there was something that could be done to assist you I would consider it. Sadly there isn’t. It is difficult to see any mitigating features save your guilty plea.”

He was jailed for three years.

To Michael Coulson he said: “I believe you were induced to commit this offence by your older and more criminally experienced brother. You went along with him voluntarily. But I am going to give you the opportunity to demonstrate you can live without offending.”

He was sentenced to two years in a young offender institution suspended for 12 months, 200 hours’ unpaid work, a 30 day activity requirement and a three month electronic curfew.