Pensioner chased off burglar with a garden fork in failed Sunderland raid

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A BRAVE pensioner chased off a beefy burglar with a gardening fork after warning him that she was armed.

Joan Manning, 65, shouted: “I know you are there. I have a weapon. I’m not scared of you,” before threatening opportunist thief Anthony Prenelle with the implement, Sunderland Magistrates heard.

Prenelle, 54, entered the terraced home of Mrs Manning in Millfield, through an unlocked door, prosecutor Lee Poppett said.

The charity shop volunteer for the British Heart Foundation, was walking along the rear lane at 9.45am on November 26, when he saw Mrs Manning gardening in her yard.

Alerted by the sound of her front door opening, Mrs Manning went into her house to investigate, only to discover her bedroom doors ajar. She opened the door, but when she could not see anyone she went back outside.

She then heard another sound of someone in the house, followed by her front door closing. She then discovered a bank book had been removed from her bag.

Mrs Manning, armed with a garden fork, then came face-to-face with Prenelle, who lives in nearby Hume Street.

“The woman who lives directly opposite saw a male, about 5 ft 6 in tall and of stocky build,” Mr Poppett said. “She knew it was Mr Prenelle.

“She saw him enter the door after Mrs Manning had exited the first time. He was in the house for a short period of time before being followed by Mrs Manning with her garden fork.”

Prenelle later told police he was walking down the rear lane when he saw an elderly female in the rear yard. He went around the front and noticed the front door was slightly ajar. He said he went into the house with the intention to steal something.

Prenelle later pleaded guilty to burglary, adding to two previous conviction for dwelling house burglary, dating back to 1991 and 2000.

“He is incredibly remorseful, he speaks in a very fond manner about this person,” defence solicitor Tom Morgan said.

“He has volunteered in the British Heart Foundation shop for the last three-and-a-half years.”

Prenelle was given a community order with a four month curfew. He was told to pay a £60 victim surcharge and £85 in costs.