A gardener who burgled the home of two elderly pensioners, for whom he had previously worked, is starting life behind bars after a judge branded his actions as “despicable”.
Jailing him for two and a half years Judge Robert Trevor-Jones told Dido Smith, who was picked out by a witness during an identity parade: “This was a very mean despicable burglary.”
He said that he had targeted the house, which although unoccupied at the time, he knew was the home of two elderly and vulnerable people, one of whom was terminally ill and has since died.
The 32-year-old, who abused their trust to steal a safe from the premises containing cash and jewellery worth almost £14,000, was accompanied by another man who has never been identified.
Smith, of Sherdley Road, St Helens, had been convicted after a trial of burgling the house in Cross Lane, Orrell, on February 11 last year.
During the court case a Liverpool Crown Court jury heard that he had been picked out on an identity parade by a witness.
Judge Trevor-Jones said that Smith was previously of good character and his thieving actions had devastated his family.
Tom Watson, defending, said that the defendant has spent three weeks in Walton jail since his conviction and he tried to persuade the judge to take a constructive course by sentencing him to give something back to the community rather than jailing him. Scammers who target the elderly should face tougher criminal sentences, a Conservative MP has demanded.
Nusrat Ghani (Weldon) has called for a new criminal offence of elder-abuse to be created so fraudsters who prey on pensioners are recognised as committing an aggravated offence.
Speaking in the House of Commons on a backbench motion discussing scams on vulnerable people, she urged the Ministry of Justice to look at the issue.
Ms Ghanisaid: “I would also like to suggest that the scams targeting the elderly be re-categorised as an aggravated crime because they especially target a vulnerable person.
“This could form part of a new type of crime called elder abuse, and I would appeal to members of this House to consider supporting my campaign to change the law to recognise this new type of crime.
“We already treat child abuse as a separate crime, and while I obviously recognise the very real differences between physical child abuse and scams against the elderly, both are especially repugnant.”