Thief left dementia-stricken Sunderland couple penniless – and relying on a food parcel

Janice and Norman Barker.'Mr Barker was the victim of thief Lisa Conlon, who stole �65 from his pocket.
Janice and Norman Barker.'Mr Barker was the victim of thief Lisa Conlon, who stole �65 from his pocket.
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A heartless thief left a husband and his dementia-suffering wife penniless and relying on a food parcel after she helped herself to their weekly income.

 Lisa Conlon, 37, reached into the pocket of Norman Barker, 50, while he was at the Esso garage in Durham Road, after he visited a cash machine to withdraw that week’s benefits money needed to pay for food and other essentials.

The Esso Garage on Durham Road next to the turning into Meadowside.

The Esso Garage on Durham Road next to the turning into Meadowside.

Mr Barker – a full-time carer for his 54-year-old wife Janice – only noticed the money was gone when he went to pay for goods.

Conlon was arrested, but only admitted stealing the £65 after she was shown CCTV footage of herself carrying out the theft.

Mr and Mrs Barker could have been left without food or heating for a full week, but were helped with a food parcel and assistance with gas and electricity money from a victims group.

Prosecutor Glenda Beck said Mr Barker was dropped was dropped off the garage by friends after going to cash point on Chester Road on June 15.

This has left me and my wife in financial difficulty. It was her money and my money and it was to last until we got paid. I am a full-time carer for my wife and we needed the money to live on.

Victim Norman Barker

“He was standing at the counter when the defendant pushed past him,” Ms Beck said.

“He said ‘What are you doing?’ She then reached into his pocket and took his cash. The injured party later put his hand in his pocket and realised that the cash was not there.”

Conlon was arrested later that day after police recognised her from the CCTV footage when coming across her on another matter.

She told officers she had found the cash on a shelf in the store while browsing for her favourite sweets. But she was then shown CCTV footage of her going into Mr Barker’s pocket and taking the money.

Conlon, of Thornhill Gardens, Sunderland, admitted theft from a person.

In a statement read out in court, Mr Barker said: “This has left me and my wife in financial difficulty.

“It was her money and my money and it was to last until we got paid.

“I am a full-time carer for my wife and we needed the money to live on.

“I’m very unhappy that this has happened. I can’t believe someone has done this to us. I believe she saw me put the cash into my pocket whilst at the counter.”

Tom Morgan, defending, said Conlon had recently been told she may have a brain tumour.

“She had consumed some alcohol and in drink she made a bad decision, “ Mr Morgan added. “She is remorseful.”

Conlon was fined £70, and told to pay £32.50 in compensation to Mr Barker, £85 costs, £180 criminal courts charge, and a £15 surcharge.