Woman died less than a year after burglary attempt at her home

Billy Smith. PIC: Norfolk Police.

Billy Smith. PIC: Norfolk Police. - Credit: Archant

An 84-year-old woman was a shadow of her former self and died less than a year after a burglar tried to break into her home, a court has heard.

Billy Smith, 31, punched his fist through the broken panel of a door to try to get into the property but was disturbed by the elderly resident.

Norwich Crown Court heard that Smith, who left DNA at the scene, was later interviewed and although he “couldn’t remember” the incident said it was the “sort of thing he would do”.

The victim passed away on August 20 last year but an impact statement from her granddaughter said her grandmother’s life was “shortened by the stress, anxiety and fear” caused by the attempted burglary.

Lynn Shirley said the granddaughter described how the victim became “a shadow of her former self” and feared the burglar might return.

The granddaughter said “there’s no question about the significant impact this caused my grandmother during the last months of her life.”

She said it upset the whole family to think that “she felt scared” in her final months at the home she had lived in for about 50 years.

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Smith, now of Norwich Prison, was sentenced on Thursday (March 19) after previously admitting the attempted burglary at the property in Ipswich on July 10 2018.

In addition Smith admitted two burglaries in Docking Road, Ringstead, when he broke into the home of another woman in her 80s who found him in her bedroom in the early hours of July 12 2018.

Miss Shirley said the victim had tried to turn on her bedside light but he had switched it off at the fuse box.

A number of items were taken including a projector and records as well as a mower, trailer and jacket taken from the garage.

Smith, whose DNA was found on the jacket, later admitted those offences.

When he appeared in court on Thursday (March 19) he asked for 14 other offences, including six burglaries, to be taken into consideration.

Jailing Smith for a total of three years, Judge Anthony Bate said he had been “driven by the need to feed an addiction to opiates”.

Russell Butcher, mitigating, said he should be given credit for his pleas and co-operation with the police.

He said he expressed his remorse and had not been aware of the sad events of the victim having passed away and now realised it might have been as a result of his actions.

He said he wanted to break the “vicious cycle of offending”.

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