Callous couple jailed for burgling their disabled neighbour's Sheffield home
A callous couple who burgled their disabled neighbour’s Sheffield home while she was in the next room have both been sent to prison.
Sherrie Clarke and Scott Richardson worked together to burgle the flat of their 79-year-old neighbour on July 19 this year, Sheffield Crown Court heard.
The court was told how the victim’s daughter had left the front door open in a bid to get some fresh air into the flat, after they returned home from a hospital appointment.
Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, said Clarke, 33, acted as the ‘look-out,’ while Richardson, 31, crept into their victim’s bedroom as she sat with her daughter in the living room.
Closed-circuit television (CCTV) from the victim’s bedroom and the landing outside her front door captured Clarke and Richardson’s movements during the burglary.
“Richardson walks through the open door and goes straight into her bedroom. She has an electronic bed alarm system and television. Cameras captured him stealing the remote control from the television. He pulls at the television and tries to remove it,” said Ms Gallagher.
The pair subsequently left with the victim’s television remote control.
Ms Gallagher said the burglary was discovered by the victim’s daughter later that evening.
After the CCTV was reviewed by family members, the victim’s granddaughter identified Clarke and Richardson as residents of the flats.
The same young woman happened to encounter Richardson at the flat block the following day.
Ms Gallagher said: “She confronted him about the burglary, and he replied: ‘I only went in to check if they were okay’. She followed him into the lift, and he shouted: ‘Shut up, or I’ll snap your neck’.”
Clarke and Richardson, both of Callow Mount, Heeley, were subsequently arrested at the flat block, and both pleaded guilty to a charge of dwelling-house burglary at an earlier hearing.
In a statement read to the court, the victim’s daughter said: “I’m shocked by this incident, we were just metres away while a man crept in our flat. I don’t think my mother is safe here anymore and I want her to move somewhere new.”
Ms Gallagher said the Crown regarded the victim as someone who was particularly ‘vulnerable’ due to her being disabled and in the early stages of dementia.
She said Richardson was known to have created ‘difficulties’ for the victim’s late husband; and said the Crown believed the defendants targeted the victim because of her ‘vulnerabilities and disability’.
The court was told how Richardson has an extensive criminal record of 113 offences, including two previous dwelling-house burglaries, and was given a suspended sentence of 26 weeks suspended for 12 months just five days before he committed this offence.
Clarke has previously been convicted of 17 offences.
Kenneth Green, defending Richardson, said his client acknowledged he had thrown away the ‘golden opportunity’ offered to him by magistrates when they gave him a suspended sentence just days before for offences including assault and theft.
“He has been addicted to alcohol in particular since he was 15-years-old, and that has also led to Class A drugs being part of his life,” said Mr Green, and added that his client was fully aware that he would receive the mandatory minimum term of three years given to ‘third-strike’ burglars.
Representing Clarke, Christopher Styles said: “This is a lady whose partner is a repeated burglar, and her partner has gone through the front door after seeing an opportunity.”
He said a ‘cocktail’ of ‘personal difficulties, drug issues and mental health problems’ had driven her to commit this offence.
The Recorder of Sheffield, Judge Jeremy Richardson QC, jailed Clarke for 28 months and Richardson for 40 months, four months of which was from the activation of part of his suspended sentence.
- South Yorkshire Police have been asked to provide custody images of both defendants