Avon man stole from 89-year-old Darwen dementia sufferer

AN AVON rep with a criminal record for burglaries stole money from an 89-year-old dementia sufferer after going to collect her catalogue.

CCTV in the victim's Darwen home helped frame Adam Smith who has been jailed for a year.

At the time, he was on prison licence, having last year been jailed for burglaries which included him targeting the elderly.

His latest victim had Alzheimer’s and CCTV had been installed at her home due to previous distraction burglaries.

Money had been taken from her in the past by people claiming to have called on legitimate business.

Smith, 22, of Nelson Street, Accrington appeared for sentencing at Preston Crown Court, having earlier pleaded guilty to the theft committed in September.

The court was told that at the time, Smith and his girlfriend had an Avon franchise.

He told police he had been to the home earlier to drop off a catalogue and later went back to collect it.

Lisa Worsley, prosecuting, said carers went to the victim’s home three times a day.

Hand rails at the mid-terraced house made it obvious that an elderly person lived there.

On the morning of September 9, the woman's son took her out for a drive. They went for a coffee and he realised he had forgotten his money.

He went into her purse to take cash out but £30 was left in the purse. The son took his mum home around midday.

Smith arrived just before 3.30pm and was in the house for about 15 minutes.

Two days later, when the woman asked her son to get more money for her, he found that the money had gone.

Police examined the CCTV and Smith was seen showing the woman a magazine.

In police interview Smith said he had an Avon round and had gone there to collect a catalogue.

He said the woman couldn't find it, so he went in while she looked for it. He told police he waited in the hallway.

In February last year, Smith was given 27 months youth custody for burglaries.

He had two offences taken into consideration on that occasion, which had involved him targeting people aged 71 and 81.

Bob Elias, defending, said Smith had been to the home before to drop off a catalogue.

He said: "He pleaded guilty at the very first opportunity. I concede there has to be a custodial sentence. It was taking an opportunity which arose.

"He is expecting to have his licence recalled. He was recalled for two weeks when arrested.

"If he is given a jail sentence his licence will snap into place, in addition to the sentence passed.”

Judge Michael Byrne said the victim was extremely vulnerable. He told Smith: "The matter only came to light when her son became suspicious. It seems that were it not for his intervention, this offence of theft would have remained unreported by the victim.

"There must inevitably be a sentence of immediate custody. You clearly have not learned your lessons from previous sentences.”

An Avon spokeswoman was looking into the situation and until then was unable to comment.

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