A burglary gang have been jailed after ransacking a South Tyneside pensioner’s home while she was in hospital after suffering a “life changing” stroke.
David Kelly, Robert Little and Michael Wilson searched every room of the 77-year-old’s home in Jarrow during the break in on February 1.
The trio, who were “wearing dark clothing and hoodies” had been seen by worried neighbours acting suspiciously near the house and were caught running out of the premises when police arrived.
In a victim statement, the pensioner’s daughter, who had been looking after her home while she was in hospital, said: “This has left me shocked.
“My elderly mother is poorly from a life changing stroke and I am gutted someone has burgled her home.
“It is a small consolation that she is in hospital and will not have to face the mess as I will put things back the way they were.
“I am afraid to tell her just now as I don’t know how this will effect her recovery.”
The court heard the pensioner’s other daughter, who is disabled, usually lives with her but was in respite care at the time.
Kelly, 35, of no fixed address, has convictions for 129 previous offences, including a number of house raids.
Little, 22, of Clyde Avenue, Hebburn, had been back on the streets for just days after his release from a prison sentence for a previous raid and has as long criminal record.
Wilson, 26, of Sidney Street, Boldon Colliery, has previous convictions for burglary.
They all pleaded guilty to burglary. Mr Recorder Bernard Gateshill QC sentenced Kelly to two years and five months behind bars.
Little and Wilson were sentenced to 16 months imprisonment each.
The judge said: “Fortunately, this house was unoccupied. Unfortunately, the occupant, an elderly lady, was in hospital and her disabled daughter was in care. This was a significant burglary.”
The court heard Kelly has a heroin dependency, was on valium when he carried out the raid and needs help to combat his addiction and offending. Graeme Cook, defending, said: “There needs to be something to break the cycle.”
Vic Laffey, defending Little, said: “Probably his only mitigation is he entered his guilty plea on the first occasion.”
David Combe, defending Wilson, said of the former Nissan worker: “He didn’t go out on that evening with the intention of committing a burglary.”