Widow's terror after finding stranger stood by her bed in night-time burglary

A terrified widow woke up in the early hours of the morning and found a stranger standing at the end of her bed.

The victim's home had been raided by Peter Atkinson and Jack Bush in the early hours of the morning and they stole over £5,000 worth of jewellery. Newcastle Crown Court heard the burglars took a watch belonging to the woman's late husband, which had been kept on display on top of his ashes in the living room.

Prosecutor Jenny Haig told the court the victim bravely confronted the intruder who came into her bedroom during the break-in and asked him: "What are you doing here?"

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Miss Haig added: "The person pushed past her with their shoulder, left the room and left the address."

Jack Bush and Peter Atkinson.

The victim, who was unwell at the time, said she has had to fit additional security features to her home. A judge said to find a burglar in your home at night is "everyone's worst nightmare". The court heard the break-in was one of three overnight raids the pair carried out in Jarrow, within a few hours in June.

During another break-in on the same night the burglars crept into another home, while a woman was watching television and took £1,607 worth of jewellery and other belongings from a bedroom. The raiders went to another house in the town, smashed a kitchen window and stole over £1,205 of property, as well as the family car.

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Bush, 32, of Lamb Drive, Sheffield and Atkinson, 40, of Taylor Grove, Wingate, County Durham, both admitted three charges of burglary and one of theft of a motor vehicle. Bush admitted an extra burglary charge after he broke into an administrative area of a block of flats in Sheffield and stole property including a bottle of Champagne and a Mercedes key.

Peter Thubron, defending Bush, who has previous convictions for house raids, said: "The sooner he gets help the better for all of us." Jamie Adams, also defending, said Atkinson, who has no previous convictions for burglary, served in the army for around seven years and did tours of Bosnia where he witnessed horrors that will stay with him for life.

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Mr Recorder Mark McKone KC sentenced Bush to five years and four months behind bars and Atkinson to 27 months.

The judge told them: "Every person fears being the victim of a night-time burglary and the public expect severe prison sentences to be imposed on night-time burglars. You know if you break into houses at night that you go to jail.

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"This was a spree of house burglaries at night, when victims were at home and high value items were taken, including valuable and sentimental items."

The judge said one victim is now "very frightened" and it is "everyone's worst nightmare" to find a burglar inside their home.