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Plymouth Live: "Plymouth Sailor Corners Bungling Burglar Who Terrified Woman Then Fell From The Roof"


War Hero
'I don’t think that he expected to see a 16-stone tattooed matelot carrying a rake'

A burly sailor has revealed how he helped catch a bungling burglar who fell from the roof after confronting a terrified woman in her own home.

Neighbourhood Watch chairman Kev Sproston cornered limping drug addict Mark Purdy as he tried to escape from the house in Keyham.

He told Plymouth Live: “I don’t think that he expected to see a 16-stone tattooed matelot carrying a rake. It was a bit unfortunate for him.”

Kev, who was off gardening, was amazed to see homeless Purdy kick his way out of a first floor window before climbing on to a glass conservatory roof.

He tumbled into the back garden of the home in Royal Navy Avenue but hurt his ankle.

Kev, aged 36, added: “He is lucky he did not go through the roof, as it was I was told that he had snapped his ankle in the fall.”

Kev, who lives in the same street, took a picture of 32-year-old Purdy being carried off by police.

His tweet earned a response from Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner Alison Hernandez, who said: “Brilliant efforts. Keep it up, we need you now more than ever. Teamwork at its best x.”

Kev was speaking after prolific offender Purdy was jailed for a spree of three break-ins and one attempted burglary within a few days in March.

His barrister told Plymouth Crown Court that he could not recall the offences – but two of his victims were left traumatised.

The court heard that the woman who lived in Royal Navy Avenue, was confronted by Purdy, wearing a Hi Vis jacket, in her hallway at about 8.45am on March 21. She barricaded herself in her living room and the burglar ran upstairs.

Kev takes up the story, saying he was walking with a rake to a community gardening project called Kintsugi. The leading electrical technician has been seconded to the scheme after badly injuring his knee on an assault course.

He added that he saw Purdy kicking his way through a window from the first floor of the house as he crossed an adjoining park.

Kev watched as the intruder jumped or fell on to the conservatory roof and then fell into the garden.

He added: “Another neighbour was shouting that he was calling the police and the lady whom he had burgled was shouting from inside too.

“He ran towards the back of the garden but I ran to the fence to ensure that there was no escape.”

Kev said that he asked a couple of ladies walking dogs to wait a moment and keep an eye out for Purdy in case he somehow slipped past.

He added that as Purdy approached the back fence, he shouted out “Come on then”, to let him know he was there.

Kev said he then used his perimeter search training to make sure that Purdy could not slip past, narrowing the area where he could be to a few gardens.

He added: “I just made sure there was nowhere he could go. He was out of luck that day.”

Police turned up within minutes and found the burglar hiding in a neighbour’s shed.

He added: “The police were there really fast, literally a couple of minutes. It is really nice when a community pulls together to help. The neighbours were all out and the two ladies walking dogs kept an eye out.”

The court heard that Purdy had 21 convictions for 46 offences and qualified for a minimum three-year sentence because of his previous burglaries.

Kev reckons that he had been prowling the area and burgled the home after seeing the woman’s husband pop to the shops – counting on the property being empty.

Minutes before breaking into the home he tried to force his way into another house in nearby North Down Gardens.

Keyham Neighbourhood Watch, which has won national recognition, presented the burglary victim with some flowers."

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