A TEENAGE burglar broke into a home where a five-year-old girl lay dead in her coffin.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was caught by the young cancer victim’s distraught parents.
He was found hiding in the youngster’s bedroom, where her small coffin had been placed.
Sunderland Youth Court heard that the teenager knew the family were out when he broke into the house on March 11.
Prosecutor John McGlone said the girl’s mother returned home shortly before 1pm and realised there was someone there.
She found a back window of the house had been broken and contacted her partner and uncle, who discovered the burglar hiding upstairs.
Mr McGlone said: “Fearing that he had a weapon, the father grabbed a frying pan and reached in with his right hand and swung the pan, hitting him and throwing him to the floor, before punching him twice.”
He added: “In interview the teenager admitted walking into the rear yard, picking up a stone and using it to break the ground floor window.
“He walked through the house, then hid when he heard someone.”
“He was fully aware of the family’s recent bereavement and knew she died from cancer.”
Nothing had been stolen from the house, but items from the girl’s room had been moved.
The youngster admitted a charge of burglary.
Defending, David Sherwood-Smith said the youth had “great difficulties” in explaining why he broke into the house.
“It is possibly because he is trying to push it from his mind.
“The realisation has come home to him yesterday.”
Mr Sherwood-Smith added that the boy was now living in a hostel, as his parents wanted nothing to do with him.
“He is going to be vilified by those who know him in the local area and when he manages to return to his home is uncertain,” he said.
District Judge Roger Elsey adjourned the case so pre-sentence reports could be prepared by the Youth Offending Service.
He said: “It is difficult to imagine anything more distressing than the facts of this case.
“The impact on your victims is so great that the option of custody has to be considered.”