Norwich burglar spared jail in ‘heartbreaking’ case for sake of her young son

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norwich Crown Court. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A burglar stole money from her vulnerable neighbour which the victim had saved to pay for his wife to have her hair and nails done in her care home, a court has heard.

The victim, who has a speech impediment and limited mobility, paid for his wife to "have the small comforts she needs", like having her hair and nails done.

But Norwich Crown Court heard he felt "terrible" after his neighbour Christina Hines, 27, who had already "persistently badgered" him for money, broke into his house, in Norwich, and stole a safe and bank book from his wardrobe.

John Morgans, prosecuting, said the safe and the bank book were found under the defendant's bed by police when she was arrested in February this year.

The court heard Hines, who previously admitted the burglary and who has a young son, was batting drug addiction at the time of the offence in November last year.

Judge Andrew Shaw said he did not know if he could impress upon Hines enough just how "serious and mean this offence was".

He said: "To read the distress that one of the little luxuries is to have her hair and nails done in the care home, something for which he pays for, and was upset because he didn't know if he would be able to do it because you stole his money, is little short of heartbreaking. He wasn't at all concerned for himself he was concerned for his wife."

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He added that for her to steal his money so she could "shove cocaine up your nose" was "just ridiculous" and insisted she could have "no complaint at all" if he sent her to prison.

But just as he recognised the victim was vulnerable he said Hines too, who has a young son was also "very vulnerable".

He said: "I'm really concerned about the impact on your son. No seven-year-old should be without his mother and actually it's your son as far as I'm concerned that prevents you from going to prison today."

Hines, now of Cadge Road, Norwich, was sentenced to 18 months in prison suspended for two years.

The judge also imposed a six-month curfew, between 8pm and 8am, and ordered her to undertake a drug rehabilitation requirement for 12 months.

Hines was also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and was made the subject of a five-year restraining order.

Jonathan Goodman, mitigating, accepted it was a "mean offence" against a vulnerable victim but said she was "in the grip" of a class A drug addiction at the time.