Burglar targets Sheffield ‘slave’ house

The Rookes' home  in Parson Cross
The Rookes' home in Parson Cross
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A ‘vulnerable’ burglar broke into the Sheffield house where a man with learning difficulties was kept as a slave and brutally beaten by three members of the same family.

Cameron Lancaster, aged 22, was walking away from the house on Halifax Road, Parson Cross, with a trolley bag and suitcase containing his haul when he was confronted by homeowner Donna Rooke.

David and Donna Rooke

David and Donna Rooke

Sheffield Crown Court was told Rooke moved out of the boarded-up property after serving a four-month jail term for battery.

Her husband David, who ran an ice cream van business, and their son Jamie were jailed for six years and four years in January after they admitted keeping 34-year-old Craig Kinsella as a slave in their garage and meting out daily beatings.

They attacked Mr Kinsella with a spade handle, crow bar and pick axe handle, starved him of food, and forced him to sleep on a concrete floor without access to a toilet.

Emaciated Mr Kinsella – who was forced to scavenge for food in the wheelie bin – was covered in bruises and suffering a broken arm.

Bev Tait, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court, said Lancaster was walking away with his haul when Rooke and her friend came across him.

After begging them not to call the police, Lancaster, of Emmerson Crescent, Parson Cross, fled leaving behind his jacket containing his DNA.

Miss Tait said: “The patio door had been removed at the rear and a number of items were outside – £2,300 worth of property had been packaged up to be taken.”

Lancaster, who pleaded guilty to burglary, told police he had seen the boarded-up property and was desperate for money to buy food because his benefits had been stopped.

His barrister said he was ‘particularly vulnerable’ with mental health issues and had seen a chance to clear his rent arrears.

Recorder Jane Rowley said it was a serious offence but suspended his eight month jail term for 12 months.