'Despicable' Sheffield burglar who targeted elderly and vulnerable people is jailed for over five years

A ‘despicable’ Sheffield burglar who preyed upon elderly victims, including a 71-year-old woman with dementia she targeted on three occasions, has been locked up for over five years.

Wednesday, 9th October 2019, 17:11 pm
Gina Dexter, 39, of Wensley Street, Grimesthorpe has been jailed for five years, five months for four burglaries carried out at the home of two pensioners, one of whom suffered from dementia. Picture: South Yorkshire Police

Gina Dexter carried out the first of her latest spate of burglaries on the morning of January 13 this year, after she knocked on the door of a home belonging to a 74-year-old man living in Grimesthorpe and told him she needed to get her ball from his garden.

Louise Gallagher, prosecuting, said the man left Dexter, of Wensley Street, Grimesthorpe waiting outside at his unlocked back door as he went through his house and into his garden to look for the ball.

“He went round to the front and found the ball near to his shed. At about midday he went to retrieve his wallet, and realised it wasn’t where he left it. Two watches had been taken from a drawer and were later found on the floor,” she said.

The pensioner’s wallet was subsequently found at Dexter’s home on June 26 this year, during a police search of the property, connected to an unrelated matter.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Ms Gallagher told the court that when Dexter, 39, was asked about the wallet she told police: ‘I did it, I’ll admit that one’.

“She admitted this was the method she had used in the past, with various vulnerable victims,” said Ms Gallagher.

Dexter was charged with burglary, and was on bail for the offence when she burgled a 71-year-old woman with dementia on three separate occasions.

Ms Gallagaher said Dexter burgled the ‘elderly and vulnerable’ woman, who lives on her own in Grimesthorpe, on three consecutive Saturdays, beginning on July 27.

The court heard how the woman’s son had previously warned Dexter to stay away from his mother’s house, after seeing her there on a number of occasions, and the police had also told her to stay away.

The burglaries were brought to his attention after he saw Dexter approach the house on July 27, and then again on August 3, on the CCTV he had installed at his mother’s home as a security measure.

On both occasions Dexter took money from his elderly mother, but when she was asked about it, she had no memory of Dexter being there.

Ms Gallagher said: “The following Saturday, anticipating that for the third Saturday in a row Dexter would attend his mother’s address, went to visit before she got there.

“He marked up a £20 note and a £10 note [in her purse] with the numbers 101 so he could identify them.

“A short time later he saw Gina Dexter approach and went upstairs...he heard the defendant say to his mother: ‘About the money you owe me’. She walked over to the telephone and conducted an imaginary conversation, and told her: ‘You owe £15. If you give me that £20, I’ll go and change it’.”

The elderly woman gave Dexter the money she asked for, at which point she left on foot, walking in the direction of Firth Park.

Her son followed Dexter and called the police, and the marked £20 was subsequently found in her purse when she was arrested in Firth Park.

Ms Gallagher told the court that Dexter has previously been convicted of four domestic burglaries, the most recent of which were committed in 2011 and 2013, against victims who were aged 74 and 79, respectively.

Dexter pleaded guilty to four counts of burglary and to one count of failing to surrender at an earlier hearing.

Richard Jepson, defending, said: “Following her release from her last sentence in 2014, she managed to stay out of trouble all together for a number of years. All of a year ago, she was the sort of person who was a success story. She was free of drugs, had accommodation, and had moved forward in a positive way.”

He added: “She is, for what little it may be worth, sorry.”

Judge Michael Slater jailed Dexter for five years, five months and described her actions as ‘criminality of the highest order’.

“They can only be described as offences of the most cruel nature. Here was an elderly woman, living on her own, who suffered from severe dementia. Who you burgled on three consecutive Saturdays in the space of a month. It’s fortunate for her that her son was so vigilant.”

He added: “An aggravating factor is your persistence, and the fact you committed them after you had been warned off in strong terms by her son, who expected you were up to no good, and the police.

“You chose to disobey these warnings.”

Referring to the final of the four burglaries, Judge Slater said: “This offence was of the most despicable kind, where the son heard exactly what you said.”