Torquay burglar stole from vulnerable victims
A burglar has been jailed for a series of raids on pensioners' houses which has left some of them too worried to leave their homes.
William Boon stole irreplaceable mementoes including a music box which was an 84-year-old widow's only tangible memory of her son, who had died at the age of five.
Boon also stole the death certificate of the vulnerable cancer patient's late husband as he ransacked a string of homes around Newton Abbot and Torbay.
He stole more than £5,000 worth of jewellery from an elderly couple in Kingskers-well and was caught after he tried to pawn a gold locket.
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All the houses he raided were left in a mess and victims later told police they were now wary about going out at night in case their homes were burgled again.
Boon, aged 33, of Shirburn Road, Torquay, admitted three burglaries and asked for five more to be considered. He also admitted growing 19 cannabis plants at his home.
He was jailed for 30 months by Judge John Neligan at Exeter Crown Court. The judge told him: "Dwelling house burglary is a very serious offence because it is the invasion of people's space and an invasion of a place where they are entitled to feel safe and secure.
"Two of these burglaries are particularly serious because you took, after an untidy search, items of great sentimental value which cannot be replaced.
"The daughter of one victim spoke eloquently in a victim impact statement about how her mother's health has deteriorated faster than it would have done."
Miss Janice Eagles, prosecuting, said the first raid was on an elderly couple whose home in Southey Lane, Kingskerswell, was broken into while they were on holiday. Valuable jewellery was stolen and Boon left a shoe print which helped police identify him.
The next raid was on the home of two elderly sisters, where a collection of antique coins of unknown value was taken.
The third was on the home of an 84-year-old cancer patient in Twickenham Road, Newton Abbot. She returned to find it ransacked and documents including her late husband's death certificate stolen, along with jewellery and valuables including a music box which was her last reminder of her son, who had died aged five.
Miss Eagles read out victim personal statements from the victims. The Kingskerswell family were upset at losing irreplaceable family heirlooms and said their 14-year-old granddaughter was so frightened by the raid she no longer went to stay with them.
The 84-year-old said she was very angry about being targeted and upset over the loss of the music box. Her daughter said she had seen it affect her mother's health and that she no longer went out at night for fear of being burgled again.
Mr William Parkhill, defending, said Boon had been living a normal family life which had been derailed by two bereavements. He lost his job and started using cocaine for the first time in many years. He built up debts because he was living on benefits and stole to try to pay them off. The court heard he is now keen to start a new life drug-free when released.