A burglar got more than he bargained for after being chased by a brave homeowner – who tackled him to the ground using a JUDO move he remembered from childhood.
Valerio Casadibari, 24, ran 200 metres barefoot and still in his pyjamas before catching up to intruder Joe Lancaster.
The private teacher then grappled Lancaster to the floor using a martial arts technique called Osotogari which is one of the original 40 throws of Judo.
Fleeing Lancaster had left the house empty-handed and begged heroic Valerio for mercy after being felled on September 11 this year.
Newlywed Valerio, who got married to his wife less than three months ago, sat on Lancaster until police arrived at the scene.
Prolific burglar Lancaster, of Chorley, Lancs., has since been jailed for three years at Preston Crown Court.
Valerio has told how adrenaline took over before he suddenly remembered the martial arts move learned while training in judo as a bright-eyed seven-year-old.
Speaking about the ordeal after the sentencing hearing, Valerio 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.”
Private teacher Valerio, who works at a missionary training centre at the Mormon Temple, said his stunned wife Gabriella, 25, thinks he is “a hero”.
“I was scared of course, I thought probably he has a knife or gun, but I did judo in Italy and brought him to the floor,” he added.
“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.”
Valerio had in judo for two years from the age of seven to nine while in Italy and had gained a yellow belt.
During a sentencing hearing, a court heard that Lancaster has committed nearly 40 burglaries – including 15 dwelling house burglaries.
The latest offence is in breach of a legal rule that sees burglars jailed for a minimum of three years for their third break-in.
Valerio and Gabriella 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 house in Chorley was unusual because from the outside it looks like an office building.
He added: “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 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.”
Mr Clarke added: “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.”
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.”
Sentencing Lancaster, Judge Robert Altham said: “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.
“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.”