Chance encounter changed a troubled man's life, court told
Life for a desperate young man changed overnight when he fell asleep in a barn and was awakened by the angry owner.
After a few choice words, the owner listened to Toby Squire's story and offered him work.
Now, eight months later, he has a settled job and earned the respect of a community near Wells, Taunton Crown Court was told.
Squire, 22, of Burcott Riding Stables, had admitted burgling his father's house at Puriton and the tack room on a farm at Stogursey where saddles and bridles worth over £1,000 were stolen.
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CCTV showed him breaking in, said Nigel Askham, prosecuting.
A tack room on a second farm near Bridgwater was also burgled and saddles worth £900 stolen, which he later admitted.
He was given police bail in December but then "disappeared" and was difficult to locate until October, when he went to Taunton police station showing remorse for what he had done.
Patrick Mason, defending, said the community police officer at Blagdon had written a letter of support – "a remarkable testament to what people think about him. He has attended with his current employer who said he is well supported by people in the community".
He was given a community order last year with curfew at his mother's address but she became sick of him and kicked him out, said Mr Mason.
He added: "The difficulty is that he is almost completely illiterate and finds it very difficult to communicate with people. He became homeless and did not know what to do. In March he found a barn to sleep in and was roused the next day by his current employer who had a few choice words to say but listened to his story and offered him a job on the spot.
"He was taken on and given accommodation as a stable hand, and it turns out he can ride rather well and helps out with people who come down from London for the weekend. He has impressed the stable owner and his partner, a retired teacher, who is teaching Mr Squire to read and write – he could not have chosen anywhere more suitable to sleep," said Mr Mason.
He admitted burglary, breach of a community order and failing to surrender to bail and could face a prison sentence, he added.
Judge Richard Bromilow said Squire had put his head in the sand and hoped his troubles would go away but things had caught up. That time had been well used and the judge said he was particularly impressed by the support he now had.
He was sentenced to a community order with supervision for 12 months.