'F****** hell, there’s someone in the house' - How brave Sheffield mum and daughter fought burglars with fists and walking stick

A brave Sheffield mum and daughter fought off three men who broke into their Herries Road home and were left “petrified” and “scared to death,” a court heard.

By Tim Cunningham
Thursday, 14th May 2020, 2:36 pm

Christopher Marples and his accomplices kicked in a door panel and gained access to the house at 7.45pm, on January 12, prosecutor Louise Gallagher said.

Marples shouted: “F****** hell, there’s someone in the house, we’d better get out.”

The mother, who had just had hip surgery, tried to fight off one of the men with her walking stick, while her daughter, who had been in bed, encountered another man on the stairs.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Christopher Marples

“She rushed him to stop him coming up the stairs,” Ms Gallagher said. “She started punching him and he began punching her. He hit her in the face and she struck him several times.

“They ended up at the bottom of the stairs, exchanging blows. Her mother was on the floor and another man was hitting her with a walking stick.

“She managed to push that man into the porch, grabbed the walking stick and started to lash out at both men, hitting them as hard as she could.”

All three men left, taking the walking stick with them.

In a statement, the mother said: “I’m petrified to go to bed. Even if I hear a car door on the front I jump up. I am already on strong medication to sleep.

“I am a nervous wreck and I think it will take a long time to get over this. I am scared to death.”

Her daughter said: “I feel angry and embarrassed. My house is supposed to be a place of safety. I feel violated that someone has come into my house.”

Ms Gallagher also described how Marples had burgled another house, on Swinston Hill Road, Dinnington, earlier that evening.

The house was unoccupied and all Marples took was a miniature wooden chest, made by the owner’s father to store coins, which was of “little material value” but of “sentimental value.”

In police interview Marples claimed his DNA, which was found at both crime scenes, got there without his knowledge.

The court heard he has 38 previous convictions for 95 offences, the first committed when he was 15-years-old, and the most recent in 2017, when he was jailed for dishonesty and failing to surrender.

Tim Gaubert, mitigating, said his prompt guilty plea was his main mitigation.

He said that Marples was not involved in the physical confrontations. He had been out of trouble and clean of drugs for two years.

“Unfortunately the drug problem had taken hold,” Mr Gaubert added.

Marples, 44, of Middle Wood Road, Sheffield, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary, when he appeared at Sheffield Crown Court, on Wednesday.

Judge Rachael Harrison quoted from the impact statements and told him: “This is what you have done to this vulnerable and scared lady. You have been a dishonest man for 29 years.”

She sentenced him to three years in prison.