Burglar who targeted pensioners stole from widow, 80, on day her husband died; Stephen Palmer, 22, has been jailed for six years and nine months after he admitted five burglaries, with two other charges left to lie on the court file.
A burglar who targeted vulnerable pensioners stole from an 80-year-old woman knowing her husband had died that day.
Stephen Palmer, 22, used similar tactics to trick his way into five homes during a six-day crime spree, Hull CrownCourtheard.
The court heard how his victims were left distressed, feeling "violated" and "ashamed,"Hull Live reports.
He would pretend he'd seen people hanging around in his victims' gardens and was offering a helping hand.
Palmer would ask for a glass of water to distract people while he committed his crimes.
The first victim was an 80-year-old woman who had lost her husband to bonecancerearlier that day, Jayne Bryan, prosecuting, said.
At 6pm on June 20, she answered her door to a man later identified as Palmer, who told her children had been in her garden, and offered to give her his number to help if they came back.
She turned to go in but Palmer followed her into the porch, where she "began to feel scared but was too scared to ask the defendant to leave".
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Palmer followed her into the living room where she grabbed hold of her handbag and said she was expecting her window cleaner.
But Palmer "insisted" on giving his number and asked for a glass of water - a ruse he would use on other occasions.
The pensioner went to the kitchen and "chatted" with Palmer, telling him "she'd lost her husband that day", Miss Bryan said.
Palmer left and it was not until the victim's daughter arrived the next day they realised he had stolen the key to her late husband's mobility vehicle, which had been on the coffee table.
At 2.50pm the next day, Palmer knocked at the home of a disabled 76-year-old woman, who thought his demeanour "a bit strange", later on reflection thinking he was drunk.
Palmer "shook the complainant's hand," said there had been "a gang of lads in the garden" and asked if he could come in.
Palmer, who told the woman he was called "George", asked for a glass of water.
After he left, the woman contacted her family who advised her to call police.
She then realised her purse, containing [pounds sterling]20, and photographs of her recently deceased brother had been stolen.
The granddaughter asked around and heard reports that Palmer had been "hanging around" that day.
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She showed her grandmother pictures on Facebook of the suspect, and she recognised him as the man who had been to her house.
In a victim statement she said the incident had caused "serious distress" and was "unnerving".
After those two burglaries in Bransholme, Hull, Palmer then targeted a 75-year-old woman in east Hull who uses a walking stick.
He approached as she was returning home from a visit to the shops at 7.45am and knocked on her door, again calling himself "George".
Palmer said he lived "at the end of the row" and asked "if she'd had bother with people throwing bottles in her front garden".
The woman said she was "always tidying up the front garden" and Palmer said he could help.
He asked if he could bring his bicycle in, which he claimed costs [pounds sterling]1,000, and the woman "refused", but Palmer ignored her and did so anyway.
He then asked for a pen and paper to write his number down and asked to use the toilet, which the pensioner refused.
Only after he left did the woman realise her purse had been stolen. It was later handed in to police, although the cash was missing.
In a statement, the woman said she was "shaken up" and said: "I feel so stupid that I let this happen."
She also felt "violated" and "ashamed".
Palmer's next victim was a 71-year-old widow in east Hull who uses a wheelchair.
She answered the door at 7am thinking it was a nurse who visited her each day.
This time Palmer called himself "Chris" and said he was making inquiries in the area because "his grandmother had been having problems with lads".
He asked for a glass of water and when the woman returned she found Palmer had stepped inside.
He chatted with his victim for 30 minutes, commenting on the size of her house and asking about her husband.
Palmer asked for a total of four glasses of water, and put his phone number in the woman's mobile phone before leaving.
She then realised her handbag was missing, along with a jewellery box given to her by her late mother.
A ring and watch given to her late husband by his father had been stolen. Some but not all of the property was later recovered.
In a statement, she said: "I'm so upset and frustrated by what has happened. I can't believe I fell for it.
"He just seemed so believable. My family are mad with me for letting him in."
Palmer later stole a man's wallet from the property of an east Hull couple after again tricking his way in.
Palmer, of Bransholme, declined to answer questions when he was arrested and interviewed.
He later admitted five burglaries, with two other charges left to lie on the court file.
He had 18 offences on his record, including theft, assault, damage, and burglary of the elderly in "very similar circumstances".
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Stephen Robinson, mitigating, said the offending was driven by Palmer's addiction to crack cocaine, but said "he does not put that forward as an excuse".
"He instructs me he is ashamed of himself," Mr Robinson said.
Jailing Palmer for six years and nine months, Judge Paul Watson QC, Honorary Recorder of Hull and the East Riding, said: "When people like your victims come to the autumn of their years they are entitled to have security, to be treated with respect, and to be safe in their own homes.
"You, on each of these occasions, targeted elderly people particularly because of their age and their infirmity."
Credit: MEN Media
Stephen Palmer targeted the elderly during his crime spree
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|Title Annotation:||News,UK News|
|Publication:||Daily Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Aug 20, 2019|
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