Burglar who stole 'irreplaceable' wedding ring from Sunderland home caught after thief found with victim's phone at train station
A burglar who broke into a couple's home and stole an "irreplaceable" 18 carat gold wedding ring has been jailed.
Michael Slee, 37, took the ring from the fireplace while burgling the house in Ryhope Street in Sunderland.Newcastle Crown Court heard how the couple who lived in the property had been married for 60 years.The woman had never taken her wedding ring off until recently due to her breaking her arm.Prosecutor Peter Schofield told the court how Slee also helped himself to a mobile phone, bank cards, cash and food from the property.The offending came to light when the victim made his way downstairs on the morning of December 5 last year.The man discovered items around the house had been moved around or were missing.He noticed that a mobile phone had disappeared as well as his wife's wedding ring from the fireplace.Mr Schofield told the court how police caught Slee in possession of the mobile phone at around 1.30pm that afternoon at Sunderland train station.Officers then went to Slee's mother's address where they recovered the stolen bank cards and food in the bin.But the wedding ring was never found.Slee, who appeared at court via video link to HMP Durham, admitted burglary during a previous hearing on January 4.Jennifer Coxon, defending, told the court how Slee had made "unfortunate lifestyle choices" at the time of the incident.She said that, due to a car crash in 2017, he found himself out of work and socialising with the wrong people.Miss Coxon said Slee was under the influence of drink and drugs at the time of the burglary.She told the court: "He is extremely remorseful. He's disgusted in himself."Recorder Sophie Drake told Slee: "You stole that lady's wedding ring. That's irreplaceable and it's, it's not possible to put a value on that."She has never got that back."Recorder Drake added that Slee had taken away the couple's feeling of safety in their own home.She sentenced Slee, of Wraith Terrace, Sunderland, to 15 months in prison.