A TEENAGE tearaway who caused havoc with burglaries and car thefts was spared a prison sentence.

Joshua Schofield, 19, went on a six-month crime spree in Worthing last year.

He broke into people’s homes to steal their cars, before leading police on hair-raising chases with his mates.

In one chase he sped towards a railway crossing as the barrier came down, only to stop at the last moment and run off.

Schofield burgled an elderly couple’s home and stole their car.

Meanwhile another couple woke in the middle of the night to find him in their home attempting to take their car keys.

The Argus:

Victims said they felt “violated” and “targeted” by the youth.

Hove Crown Court was told how Schofield also shops including Tarring News and Wine, smashing a window, and Denyer News, where he cost the business £1,300 in lost takings.

He admitted nine offences including three domestic burglaries, two commercial burglaries, aggravated vehicle taking, taking a car without the owner’s consent, fraud by false representation, and driving without insurance.

But Schofield, who has been in and out of foster care and children’s home since the age of seven was spared a jail term because he has now started to turn his life around.

Judge Christine Henson QC imposed a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Read more on this story: 'Was it all worth it?' - Burglary victims speak out over teenager's crime spree

Schofield’s girlfriend Danielle Cutler, 20, told the court she will give him the boot if he returns to a life of crime.

Her comments were echoed by Adam Tucknott from the West Sussex County Council Leaving Care Service

Mr Tucknott said Schofield has “proved himself” by not committing any offences since April.

William Goss, prosecuting, told the court the offences took place between April and October 2019.

Schofield was 17 and was homeless at the time, the court heard.

Mr Goss said had been seen with groups of others during the crime spree, often as the driver and gang leader.

The Argus:

He said Schofield is a “committed thief” who has shown “a contemptuous disregard for the property of others” and racked-up an “appalling catalogue” of crimes.

The maximum sentence for burglary is five years, an even by admitting his crimes Schofield could have faced a lengthy prison sentence.

Richard Cherrill, defending, said society could however benefit by allowing Schofield, formerly of Bennett Road, Brighton, a chance to reform and rebuild his life.

He has shown remorse and a desire to compensate those he has wronged.

Judge Christine Henson QC said: “You are 19 years of age and you went on what can only be described as a spree of criminal behaviour over a six-month period.

“At that time you had a complete disregard for others and were only thinking of yourself. You have caused havoc.”

She ordered him to complete 100 more hours of unpaid work and pay £200 in compensation to one couple and £400 to Denyer News.

You can keep informed of crime stories by joining our Facebook group here: Sussex crime and court watch