Conman jail term slashed

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A BURGLAR who conned his way into an elderly couple’s flat has been granted his freedom after three senior judges slashed his prison sentence.

Michael Anthony Vincent Brooke, aged 43, of Bellhouse Road, Shiregreen, was jailed for 10 years at Sheffield Crown Court in February 2007 after admitting burglary.

More than four years on, his ‘manifestly excessive’ sentence has been cut to seven years at the Court of Appeal in London.

Although he must serve 459 days for breaching licence conditions from a previous sentence, the fact Brooke would have to serve only half his term before release meant he could be freed immediately.

Lord Justice Elias told the court Brooke had a ‘shocking’ record for burglary, particularly targeting elderly and vulnerable victims, conning his way into their homes.

He had gone to the elderly couple’s Sheffield flat in May 2006, pretending to be from an organisation which used reformed drug addicts to do work at people’s properties.

He was allowed inside and began trying to gain the trust of his victims aged 86 and 87 – one of whom had Parkinson’s Disease and the other angina.

But the couple were suspicious and did not take their eyes off him for the 45 minutes he was there, before calling police after he had left empty-handed.

The court heard Brooke, who had similar convictions going back to the 1990s, was identified by the male victim and his fingerprints were found at the scene.

His lawyers argued the original 10 year sentence was significantly too long.

They said no force or threats were used by Brooke and nothing had been stolen from the elderly couple and his sentence was cut to seven years.