Durham Masters student charged with burglaries at Grey College over Christmas

Letters and personal items were stolen in the burglary

A post graduate student at Durham has been charged with three counts of burglary after breaking into Grey College and stealing personal belongings, including personal letters addressed to students.

Last month on the 24th January, an email was sent to students at Grey from their Master, Tom Allen, informing of a break-in at the college earlier in the month, where numerous personal letters had been stolen from the post room.

The email stated that the suspect’s property had been searched, but the stolen belongings may need to be retained as police evidence. Since then, the identity of the suspect has been revealed.

29-year-old Post Grad Masters student Juan Carlos Miramontes Martinez was allegedly arrested in a block of female loos at Grey in the early hours of January 5th, with a bag of tools including hammers and screwdrivers in his possession, as well as stolen letters and property from a female student’s room.

In total, 46 letters were stolen from students at Grey, and three days after the initial email informing of the burglary, students were advised that they would be contacted directly if their letters had been found at the suspect’s Gilesgate residence.

On Thursday 20th February, Martinez appeared at Durham Crown Court via video link from prison. There he faced three counts of burglary, including alleged aggravated break-in and going equipped for burglary. The defendant’s barrister, Chris Morrison, asked for the charges not to be put against his client, as they had not yet met face-to-face.

The judge, James Adkin, responded by saying: “He’s not charged with murder. He’s found with those tools and items taken from other rooms. It’s not rocket science, he’s either guilty or not guilty. He knows if he committed burglary or not”, but acquiesced to the request and set a further hearing for 17th April, with a potential trial beginning 11th May.

Meanwhile, Martinez is to remain in police custody. The incident has been a harsh reminder for Grey students to be more vigilant about safety around college.

One student told The Tab “everyone was so shaken up. College is supposed to be a safe place, especially with all the security codes on the doors. You read about things like this, but never expect a burglary to actually happen to you”.

Another commented on locking bedroom doors, saying “the burglar could have gone anywhere in college, into any of our rooms. So next time you forget to lock your door and the cleaners lock you out, remember this is why they do it”.