'Two beauties' burgled sheltered accommodation in Jarrow - only to be confronted by residents

Brave sheltered accommodation residents stepped in and stopped "two beauties" who had burgled their secure complex and stole property.

Gemma Campbell, 38, and Audra Ames, 51, were let into Porlock House, in Jarrow, which houses older people, by an occupant but once inside burgled the room of a pensioner who had died and took their curtains.

Newcastle Crown Court heard one of the women told a guest who they disturbed during the raid in September 2020: "I bet you've never had two beauties like us in the property".

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The court was told how the duo also tried door handles of occupied flats, at a time when visiting was banned from the complex, which has an intercom entry system, due to Covid restrictions.

They described themselves as 'two beauties'.

Prosecutor Elizabeth Muir told the court the women got into communal areas and stole pictures from the walls, cleaning materials and a mirror.

A judge said they took "anything that wasn't nailed down".

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Miss Muir said two male residents realised items were missing from inside the building and cupboards in the communal cupboards had been "ransacked" then saw the raiders stacking items up outside.

Miss Muir told the court the residents confronted the woman and added: "The men said they were not going anywhere until the police arrived".

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Gemma Campbell.

The court heard another resident came downstairs during the confrontation and was "shaking with fear".

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One of the occupants said in a statement: "Lots of things changed with covid but we all look out for each other.

"To have your door handle tried is unnerving.

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"They shouldn't have been in the building. They shouldn't have removed our belongings."

Audra Ames.
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Another said: "There are elderly residents live here, who are vulnerable."

Another occupant added: "I am extremely annoyed at these females being in our secure home.

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"I believe someone has let them in believing they were friends of his daughter or something. They clearly took advantage of him being elderly and vulnerable."

Campbell, of Downham Court, South Shields, South Tyneside and Ames, of Stoddart Street, South Shields, both admitted burglary and theft.The court heard both women have had troubled pasts and have criminal records.

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Grant Hunter

David Callan, defending, said Campbell is "clean" after being in custody and had taken advantages of opportunities to change.

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Mr Callan said the raid was "not terribly professional".

Jennifer Coxon, defending, said Ames' son was killed and three people were tried with his murder but one was convicted of manslaughter.

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Miss Coxon said: "It has had a significant impact on her emotional wellbeing."

The court heard Ames has a criminal record but had been out of trouble for over a decade before the raid.

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Campbell had also admitted theft of meat and handling stolen goods after she and Grant Hunter took a trip to Aldi in South Shields in a stolen vehicle.

Campbell was sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with drug rehabilitation requirements.

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Hunter, 45, of Beach Road, South Shields, admitted theft of meat, handling stolen goods and driving while disqualified.

The court heard the pair were spotted stealing meat from the shop and the police were alerted by staff.

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Hunter, who has taken opportunities of receiving help with his problems while in prison on remand, was jailed for two years.

Ames was sentenced to 16 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, with rehabilitation requirements and 100 hours unpaid work.

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Judge Robert Adams said the women each tried "various door handles" and while in the communal areas at the sheltered accommodation they "effectively removed anything that wasn't nailed down".