Sunderland burglar weeps on hearing victim’s evidence

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A FEMALE burglar who broke into a woman’s house cried in the dock as her victim told of the lasting effects of the ordeal.

Jemma McCabe smashed a glass window and broke into Michelle Croft’s home in Blackett Terrace, Millfield, Sunderland, stealing her laptop, handbag and purse.

The 26-year-old was spotted running away from the property by the victim, who had returned home from work having misplaced her handbag.

Ms Croft called the police after the incident on February 21, and six people were arrested at a neighbouring property on Hylton Road.

McCabe, of Kitchener Terrace, Grangetown, Sunderland, admitted the burglary to police.

Claire Anderson, prosecuting, said: “At 8.15am Ms Croft went to work and left the house secure.

“She couldn’t find her handbag in the house and thought she must have left it at work.

“When she realised it wasn’t at work she returned home at about 9am and the front door appeared to be unlocked.

“As she was looking for her handbag she heard somebody walking down the stairs of her property.

“She saw a female which appeared to be the defendant.

“There was a glass pillar at the back of the house which was smashed and keys had been taken out of the back door.

“The contents of the shed had been scattered across the yard and her laptop had been taken.”

Ms Croft took her place in the witness box to give a personal statement about how the burglary has affected her life.

McCabe, who pleaded guilty to one count of burglary, cried in the dock as Ms Croft told Newcastle Crown Court: “I have started to find it difficult to sleep.

“When I hear a noise I think it’s someone in the house and I have nightmares. Prior to the burglary I did not suffer from insomnia or nightmares.

“I have been so scared someone is in the house that I have woken my boyfriend to escort me to the toilet.

“If I am in the house alone I have to ask my friends or my boyfriend to text me. I have to have all of the doors and windows closed all of the time.

“I don’t go into town on my own and I have a panic button in my house, but I still feel scared.

“The only place I truly feel safe is at work. I want to be able to walk around the house and not feel scared.”

Peter Schofield, defending, said: “This defendant pleaded guilty at the very first opportunity.

“The defendant is remorseful for what took place in respect of this incident.

“She in herself has depression. This defendant is a single parent of a six-year-old boy.

“When I informed her the victim was going to give an account she went white. She is scared she will have to endure custody. She told her son she may be away for some time.”

Judge Chris Williams told McCabe: “I sense Ms Croft has been very much effected by it. It has caused upset and in my judgement a real scar that is long lasting.”

Judge Williams sentenced McCabe to 21 months in prison, suspended for two years. She will also have to abide by a four-month curfew, have 12 months’ supervision and pay a victim surcharge of £100.