AN 89-YEAR-OLD deaf and partially blind Mildenhall widow has been left terrified of being alone after her home was raided by intruders as she slept.
Kathleen Golthorpe woke to find items worth more than £1,000 had been stolen including jewellery given to her by her husband, and her late daughter, none of which has been recovered. Even her hearing aid had been stolen. Ipswich Crown Court heard on Friday.
In a statement read to the court Mrs Golthorpe said the burglary had left her feeling like “a prisoner in her own home.”
“I am deaf and partially sighted and my mobility is limited. I can’t begin to tell you how this has affected me. I worry about getting up during the night,” she said.
“I hate having to be locked in. I feel I am a prisoner in my own home now. Any noise I think is people coming to the door. I worry in case they are going to hurt me.
“Nothing is the same any more and I worry if I should stay here.”
In court was 19-year-old Justin Phillips of The America, Sutton, near Ely, who pleaded guilty to two offences of burglary and asked for nine similar offences to be taken into consideration, together with one of attempted burglary.
Sentencing him to 28 months’ detention in a young offenders’ institution, Judge Rupert Overbury said: “The waking agony and memory of what you did to her will last significantly longer that any prison sentence I am allowed to pass.”
The court heard that Phillips had been on bail for another break-in at a house in Trinity Avenue in Mildenhall when his fingerprints were matched to ones found at Mrs Golthorpe’s home.
At the address in Trinity Avenue occupier, Craig Scott, had pretended to be asleep because he was so frightened when he realised that two masked men were searching the room he was sleeping in.
They stole fishing tackle, a Blackberry Curve phone and the keys to a car which was driven off and later found on fire a short distance away.
After being arrested Phillips told police that he had become involved with two other men after travelling to Mildenhall and accompanied them as they toured a housing estate looking for homes where windows had been left open on what was a warm night.
Phillips said he had not entered all the properties and claimed that alcohol and peer pressure had led to his involvement in the crimes.
Mitigating Julianna Tolan said Phillips had no previous convictions and the offences had been entirely out of character. He had at the time been in the final stages of joining the Army to train as an electrical engineer.
Six of the offences he asked to be taken into consideration had been in Cambridgeshire and two in Mildenhall, all committed over a three-week period earlier this year.
“It appears that he was being coerced by the others by virtue of peer pressure,” she said and had co-operated with police to identify others involved.
She added Phillips had not benefitted financially from any of the offences and the matter had devastated his family.”
Sentencing Judge Overbury said: “Any intrusion into someone’s home, particularly at night, is a violation of their privacy and safety.”