Undies thief glued locks at ex's home

A vengeful ex-boyfriend sneaked into his former partner's home, stole her underwear then superglued keys into the woman's locks.

He also piled an evicted flatmate's belongings at the rear of his property after an argument and set fire to it before going out.

Since the arson, James Andrew Birchall, 53, a Masterton sickness beneficiary, broke into his former partner's laundry, "wanting to get back at her", stealing up to 20 pairs of underwear before he super-glued keys into her doors twice to stop her getting in.

He handed himself into police.

Birchall pleaded guilty to charges of arson, burglary and wilful damage when he appeared in Masterton District Court.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Garry Wilson said that on July 31, 2012 Birchall and a flatmate got into an argument about house rules and Birchall asked the victim to leave.

Not wanting the flatmate to go back inside the house, Birchall stacked the man's belongings against the rear of the house to be collected.

Birchall set it alight as he left for an appointment, Mr Wilson said.

"The defendant took an oil soaked rag from the garage, lit the rag and threw it onto the pile of belongings including a couch, a set of drawers and gas heater."

The fire took hold and spread through the house causing extensive damage to the property, he said.

"He denied any knowledge of the fire or how it started."

Then between November 1, 2013 and February 3 this year, Birchall, went to his ex-partner's home and on finding her not home, entered the laundry and stole the woman's underwear, Mr Wilson said.

On two occasions Birchall went inside the house and glued keys into the door locks before snapping them off in the lock, causing $150 damage.

"He left the address and waited for the victim to arrive home and discover the damage.

On one occasion he picked up the victim and gave her a ride home."

Defence lawyer James Elliott asked for the court to order a section 38 psychiatric report be completed to assist the court at sentencing.

Judge Walsh convicted Birchall on the three charges and remanded him in custody for a pre-sentence report and sentencing on July 8.

- Cherie Taylor of the Wairarapa Times-Age

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