Serial burglar stole man’s ‘life savings’ in string of raids on elderly victims
- Credit: Norfolk Constabulary
A serial burglar tricked and stole from an 83-year-old woman in sheltered housing - then returned a week later to attack and rob her 76-year-old neighbour of his life savings.
Wayne Hambling, who has a string of previous convictions for targeting older people, took advantage of doors being left open during last year's summer heatwave, Norwich Crown Court heard.
Martin Ivory, prosecuting, said 41-year-old Hambling targeted the next-door neighbours at Waddington Court, Norwich - pretending to check their smoke alarms or need a glass of water.
Hambling, who admitted burglary and robbery, was given nine years custody for the robbery with four years extended licence, and five years for the burglary to run concurrently.
The court heard that on July 29 2018 he crept through the door of an 83-year-old woman, left ajar because of the heat.
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Mr Ivory said: "She heard a cough and turned around to see her door was open. She walked with her walking frame to the kitchen and encountered a man wearing a yellow high-vis jacket pretending to be a workman.
"He said 'I have to check your smoke alarms because of the heat'. She thought it was quite odd but thought he must have been sent by the council."
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Hambling made a show of looking at the alarms before asking for a glass of water. When the woman was not looking he stole £300 in cash from her handbag.
Nine days later, on August 7, a 76-year-old man living next door also had his door ajar due to the heat.
When Hambling appeared in his doorway, the man, who recently had triple bypass heart surgery, "challenged him".
"The defendant headed straight towards him and sprawled out on the sofa demanding water," Mr Ivory said.
When told to get out Hambling got to his feet and "came at" his victim.
"He grabbed hold of him by his t-shirt, wrestled him to the floor and knocked over a table," said Mr Ivory.
"[The victim] ended up on the carpet with the defendant ripping at his trousers."
Hambling took £605 in cash from the man's wallet - his "life savings". But in the course of both burglaries he left behind DNA, on a glass of water and on his victim's trousers.
In a victim impact statement, the man said he felt he was targeted "because of my age and disability".
"Still to this day I have memories of that event. I see the man coming into my property and lunging at me," he said. "It infuriates me I couldn't defend myself."
Since the incidents at Waddington Court, Hambling was jailed for 21 months for theft, burglary and making false representations. He had entered the home of a 66-year-old asking for water before stealing cash and her purse.
And in 2017 he was jailed for two years for robbing an 82-year-old man of £900.
Andrew Oliver, for Hambling, said he had "clearly targeted elderly residents".
"He is deeply ashamed of yet again becoming involved in things of this nature as a result of craving Class A drugs," he added.
"At age 41 he is well aware his life is slipping away from him."
Jailing Hambling for nine years with four years extended licence, Judge Maureen Bacon told him conditions of his release would prevent him going to Waddington Court or any other home for elderly residents.
"It is now plain your usual modus operandi is targeting the elderly," she added, saying he poses a "high risk of serious harm" to the public, especially the elderly.
Hambling, of HMP Norwich, was given nine years custody for the robbery with four years extended licence, and five years for the burglary to run concurrently.