A notorious burglar walked into a newlywed couple’s bedroom in the early hours of the morning, a court has heard.
But intruder Joe Lancaster, of Stump Lane, Chorley, got more than he bargained for when heroic husband Valerio Casadibari took to the streets of Chorley in his pyjamas and chased him.
Courageous Mr Casadibari, 24, left his stunned wife Gabriella, 25, in bed and ran 200 metres barefooted to catch the criminal.
After being brought to the ground with a martial arts move by the judo expert, the criminal begged the homeowner not to hurt him.
Mr Casadibari, who works at the missionary training centre at the Mormon Temple in Chorley, sat on Lancaster until police arrived - with some passers by mistakenly thinking he was the assailant.
Today he said: “Basically, we were sleeping, it was morning time and I heard a noise.
“I woke and thought maybe something fell over, but I saw a shadow opening the bedroom door slowly to see if we were sleeping.
“At that moment I jumped from my bed saying: “Who are you, what do you want?”
“He started to run away. He threw something.
“I was in my pyjamas without shoes or socks, and I was running. I was so upset and the adrenaline was going - I just wanted to know what he wanted.
“He only ran for 200 metres then he stopped - he either couldn’t run anymore or understood he couldn’t run away,. Even without shoes I was catching him.
“He begged me for mercy.
“I was scared of course, I thought probably he has a knife or gun, but I did judo in Italy and brought him to he floor.
“I knew I had to check his pockets for weapons, but he had things like pencils and sweets. People were passing by looking at me and probably thought I was robbing him - I had to explain! I was asking for help and a car stopped.
“Gabriella thinks I’m a hero - she didn’t understand what was happening at first.”
Lancaster has committed nearly 40 burglaries - including 15 dwelling house burglaries - Preston Crown Court was told, and the offence is in breach of a legal rule that sees burglars jailed for a minimum of three years for their third break in.
His victims had only been married a month after getting hitched in their native Bari, Italy and this was their first home together.
Prosecuting, David Clarke said the couple’s home was unusual because from the outside it looks like an office building.
He added: “He and his wife went to bed at 1pm on September 11.
“At around 5.50am they were disturbed by a noise coming to the entrance hall. He then saw the bedroom door was open and he could see a figure peeping around the doorway.
He could tell this was a male who was fair skinned.
“He shouted immediately and jumped out of bed to challenge the person. That person immediately ran from the flat and he ran after him in his pyjamas and caught him on nearby George Street.
“The man put his hands up and begged him not to hurt him.”
A number of items were found close to him or on him - including a plastic spider - but there was no evidence of forced entry.
In an interview, Lancaster said he thought their kitchen was a kitchenette area for office staff, and that he’d carried out the offence due to an ongoing drug habit.”
Mr Clarke added: “They don’t have much money and work very hard to have nice things and Mr Casadibari was very angry that someone tried to steal things he has worked hard for.
“He puts more emphasis on the effect on his wife, who fears being alone in the house and won’t use the bathroom or shower unless he is in with her.
She also has issues with speaking English which makes it difficult for her to ask for help.”
Judge Robert Altham said: “It’s right to say the property, from the outside, doesn’t look like a typical dwelling, but I’ve also seen pictures of the inside and anyone who entered would immediately realise they were in someone’s home.
“What happened next is a householder’s nightmare. The victim, in his bed, in his own home - where he’s entitled to feel safe - saw this defendant peering around the doorway in the process of trying to burgle his home.
“The victim, showing a good deal of courage, gave chase.
“There’s a real contrast to be drawn here between the victim - hard working, and proud of what he owns and with sufficient courage to give chase - and this defendant sneaking into somebody else’s home.
“The fact is this defendant is a career burglar who will burgle again and again, no matter what the cost is to other people.
“It’s an attack upon people’s way of life - it’s an attack upon their sense of security in their own home.”
He jailed him for three years.