A MAN who emigrated to Australia while wanted for his part in a Redditch burglary 14 years ago was arrested when he returned for his uncle’s surprise birthday party.
Lloyde Walmsley was sentenced at Warwick Crown Court for the burglary and a theft he also admitted.
The court heard even a suspended prison sentence could affect Walmsley being allowed back into Australia where he had a wife and child and had built up his own business.
So Walmsley, 39, who lived in Greenleigh Road, Birmingham, at the time, was given a 12-month community order with 200 hours of unpaid work which must be completed before he returns to his family.
Prosecutor Ian Windridge said the offences happened in Plymouth Road, Redditch, in February 2004 when a couple were disturbed at 2.45am.
They saw a torchlight in the conservatory from their window so banged on the roof.
The two intruders fled with the keys to the couple’s £26,000 Audi A3 and they saw it being driven away behind a BMW the burglars had arrived in.
Five minutes the BMW crashed at the Redditch Sainsbury’s island and Walmsley and a man named Nicholls fled on foot but were caught by police.
Mr Windridge said in May 2004 Walmsley pleaded guilty to burglary and the car theft but Nicholls denied the charges, so the case was adjourned for his trial.
Nicholls, who had a bad burglary record, later changed his plea to guilty and was jailed for four years in December 2004.
Walmsley failed to attend the hearing, leading to a warrant for his arrest.
Mr Windridge pointed out in 2006 Walmsley was dealt at Solihull magistrates court for a public order offence when the warrant did not come to light.
Anthony Bell, defending, said Walmsley’s pre-sentence report was favourable and recommended a rehabilitation order but, having been to jail before, albeit five or six years earlier, he was frightened about going back inside, was not thinking very clearly and alcohol played a significant part in his life at that time.
“He went home and stayed at home with his mother and carried on working. The knock on the door never came.”
Mr Bell said Walmsley had not fled to Australia to escape but was a bricklayer, during the 2008 recession, applied for a visa there.
He had stayed there, getting married and, now with a four-year-old child, had built up his business which employs three people.
He was arrested at the airport earlier this month after returning for the party.
Mr Bell said Walmsley had achieved what the 2014 pre-sentence report’s aims – putting his old associates behind him and building a new life.
He requested the ‘unusual course’ of a community sentence so Walmsley could return to Australia.
Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told Walmsley had he attended court in 2004 and put the case behind him his life would have been a lot easier.
She said no-one suggested he ‘fled’ to Australia as he was in England for four years before he went there ten years ago to start his new life.
“You are a completely different man from the 25-year-old who committed this serious burglary back in 2004, at a time when you went off the rails.
“You also have to be dealt with for your failure to attend, but I do believe this to be an exceptional case.”
Walmsley will work 35 hours-per-week until the order is complete.