Norwich distraction burglar spared jail

A Norwich distraction burglar who pretended to be pregnant and conned her way into an elderly man's home was spared jail after a court heard how her career criminal partner had exerted control over her.

Natalie Cook and her partner Terence Pollard, a career criminal who was jailed for eight years this month for a series of distraction burglaries, stole a wallet containing cash and bankcards worth �200 and a bus pass from an 82-year-old man who lived in sheltered accommodation.

Cook, 23, from Birkbeck Road, Lakenham, appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday for sentencing after pleading guilty to burglary at a previous hearing.

Judge Philip Curl told her: 'This is a very serious matter and you would normally go to prison straightaway. It is an extremely mean offence.

'But your unsuitable partner exerted control over you. He was more than double your age and had a criminal record.

'He has recently been spent to prison for eight years and is hopefully now out of your life. You also suffer from Crohn's disease and there have been two suicide attempts.

'You have had a narrow escape but public interest will be served by serving a suspended sentence on you.'

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Cook was imprisoned for 51 weeks, suspended for two years, with a 12 months supervision order.

She was also given a curfew to remain at her home from 9pm to 7am for four months. No order for costs was made.

Prosecutor Malcolm Robins said: 'The wallet belonged to an 82-year-old man living near Ipswich Road in Norwich. The defendant, together with a man, knocked on his door at about 6.30pm on June 21.

'The man asked for a glass of water for his pregnant wife. Despite the man saying they should remain at the front door, both entered the bungalow.

'The man went into the kitchen and poured a glass of water. But he grew suspicious when the man pulled the defendant out of the building. He had left a pair of trousers on the settee, and noticed that the cards and cash were gone.'

Mr Robins said the defendant was arrested as her fingerprints were on the glass.

Since the incident the man has become more careful whom he lets in, he said.

Michael Clare, for Cook, said: 'The defendant blames herself but please take into account the nature of her relationship with her partner. She was attracted to him because she found his lifestyle exciting but it was a huge mistake. She is now �15,000 in debt because he used to get her to buy laptops on credit. Ironically, before this she had worked for five years as a carer for elderly people at a care home. She feels sincere remorse.'

Speaking after the case, Det Con Steve Matthews said the convictions for Pollard and Cook sent out a strong message that any crimes targeting the vulnerable and elderly in Norwich would not be tolerated.