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Man stole £20k from pensioner
9:00am Monday 23rd September 2013 in News
A 30-YEAR-OLD stolen a pensioner’s antique watch valued at £20,000 to help fund his drug habit.
Christopher Smith, from Denton, Manchester, took the watch, which had been handed down from his father, while accompanying a couple to the Warrington pensioner’s home who were inquiring about renting his garage and spare room.
Warrington Crown Court heard on Friday Smith had become dependent on drugs after being told he could have Huntington’s disease which had killed both his mother and grandmother in their 30s.
The 67-year-old man had advertised the space for sale to help supplement his running costs after moving to the area to be closer to his daughter.
Paulinus Barnes, prosecuting, said: “He was contacted by a woman she said she was interested in the garage.
“She arrived with her partner and he saw a second man, Smith, getting out of the car. While discussing he garage the second man asked if he could use the toilet. He allowed him in while the others stayed outside.”
Smith was gone for 10 minutes and came back outside and asked about buying the trailer.
The group went inside to look at the spare room and Smith again asked to use the toilet – this time taking longer.
When they left the homeowner realised £70 had been taken from his wallet, packets of diazepam were gone and the watch had been taken from his wardrobe.
The next day the woman contacted him to ask about the room and when he told her of the missing items she gave him Smith’s name.
The watch has not been retrieved.
Smith pleaded guilty to the burglary.
Sarah Griffin, defending, said: “He had been on a methadone prescription. Afterwards he turned to diazepam as a coping strategy. He used that addiction to look for a valuable item to fund his habit.
“When he came round and realised what he had done he took an overdose. He was found by paramedics on the side of the road.”
Sentencing him to 39 weeks in prison and a further week to run consecutively for failing to attend court for a previous hearing Judge Nicholas Woodward said: “I accept it was not premeditated – it was opportunistic when you entered the house with people who were prospective tenants.”
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