A HEARTLESS conwoman has been put behind bars after tricking her way into the home of a North-East MP’s elderly mother.
Leanne Smith took irreplaceable property, including wedding and engagement rings from 77-year-old Connie Morris, the widowed mother of Easington MP Grahame Morris.
Smith struck after being invited into the kind grandmother’s home for a cup of tea.
The court heard that, just days earlier, Smith and her boyfriend, Alan Warrener, 30, had robbed an 81-year-old woman after following her from a bus in Sunderland.
Smith, who has a previous conviction for forcing her way into another pensioner’s home during a robbery, was jailed for four years.
The 34-year-old, of Henry Street North, Murton, County Durham, admitted burglary and robbery.
Warrener, 30, of Chester Road, Sunderland, was jailed for two years after admitting robbery.
Recorder Paul Camp told Newcastle Crown Court both crimes had a “significant effect” on the victims.
Simon Worthy, prosecuting, said Smith turned up at Mrs Morris’s house last July, asking to borrow a teabag so she could make herself a drink.
The victim, who had just got out of hospital, told police she lived by the philosophy of doing a good deed every day and recognised Smith from seeing her around the neighbourhood so she invited her in.
Smith distracted her by claiming she could hear a knock on the door, knowing there was nobody there and buying herself time to take what she wanted.
Grandmother-of-two Mrs Morris, later discovered her bag, which contained £100 in cash, jewellery and her inhalers, was gone after a relative called to say it had been found dumped in a bin. The widow, who lost husband Richard 25 years ago, when he was 55, then realised her jewellery and other goods were gone.
She said: “That’s my nature. That was my good turn. She conned her way in and stole personal items which had great sentimental value.
Mr Morris added: “It’s very upsetting when it’s your own family, and I hope that other elderly people will learn from this to be ultra-cautious about letting anybody they don’t know into their house.”
In a statement read to the court, Mrs Morris said she has struggled to sleep since the theft, adding: “Those items, such as wedding and engagement rings, are irreplaceable to me.
“The financial value is immaterial, those rings were given to me by my husband, who has passed away.
“She has given no thought to what those items meant to me. Nothing can replace what those items meant to me.
“If she felt genuine remorse, she would help me recover what she stole.
“The loss of the items has devastated me.”
Just days before the raid, Smith and then boyfriend Warrener followed a pensioner after spotting her on a bus in Holmeside, Sunderland.
When she got off, Warrener snatched her bag, which caused her to stumble forward.
Lewis Kerr, defending, said Smith is sorry for what she did while in the grip of a drug problem, which she has now overcome.
Mr Kerr said Smith has had no “formal request” to help get the widow’s jewellery back but had told police which pawn shops she used.
Andrew Finlay, defending, said Warrener turned to alcohol to cope with tragedy in his life.