A Stoke by Clare man who broke into a house, put on the owner's clothes and drank his wine had struggled with his mental health for many years, a court was told.

On Thursday, Lance Baker appeared at Ipswich Crown Court to be sentenced for burglary, possession of an offensive weapon and criminal damage, for which he pleaded guilty.

The offences relate to an incident which took place on April 16 last year.

The court heard that police were called to a renovated farm property by a neighbour, who had been contacted by the property’s owner who was away in America and had received alarm notifications.

Inside, the police discovered Baker, 50 and of Lower Green in Stoke by Clare.

He had drunk several bottles of wine, one of which is estimated to cost £725, and had put on items of the owner's clothing. These clothing items had been soiled, as had the sofa and the bed.

When police searched Baker’s vehicle, they discovered a knuckle-duster.

Speaking in his defence, Baker’s counsel said that he had been suffering from a psychotic episode.  

The court heard that ‘voices’ had told Baker to drive to the property, drink the wine and put on the clothes, although he admitted that he had smoked cannabis and been drinking that evening.

The court heard that Baker has struggled with his mental health for many years and had experienced a number of breakdowns.

He had, his counsel said, been on a detox program for three years before he relapsed and committed the offences.

In sentencing Baker, Judge David Pugh said he acknowledged Baker’s ongoing struggles with his mental health.

For the burglary, he sentenced him to 16 months in prison. For the possession of the offensive weapon and criminal damage, he sentenced him to one month, to be served concurrently.

Judge Pugh suspended Baker’s sentence for two years. He also ruled that Baker will complete a mental health treatment requirement, an alcohol abstinence monitoring requirement of 120 days, and up to 25 Rehabilitation Activity Requirement days.

He will also pay the victim £2,000 in compensation.