Lowestoft burglar jailed for six years

A criminal who targeted vulnerable victims in a string of distraction burglaries has been jailed for six years after a judge branded him a 'menace to local society'.

Stephen Friend, 35, who was jailed for 27 months in March for burglary, was interviewed again by police after victims of other offences recognised his photograph in newspaper reports of his court appearance, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Friend, formerly of Normanston Drive, Lowestoft, made admissions to police and took them on a tour of the Lowestoft and Southwold areas, pointing out houses where he had committed crimes, the court was told.

He subsequently admitted four offences of burglary and asked for 15 similar offences to be considered.

The court heard that at least two of Friend's victims were over 90.

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Jailing him for six years to run concurrently with his present sentence, Recorder John Gallagher said he had deliberately targeted the elderly and had used distraction tactics.

He said: 'You are a menace to local society.

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'You showed no sympathy or respect for age and you showed no feelings for the people you burgled.'

David Holborn, prosecuting, told the court that in 2007 Friend had entered a house in Denmark Road, Lowestoft and had stolen a handbag and other items worth �160.

In January 2009 he knocked on the door of a house in Ballygate, Beccles belonging to a 97-year-old partially-sighted woman, who had invited him in after mistaking him for one of her friends.

Once inside the property Friend had asked for a glass of water and when the woman returned she found that Friend had gone and her purse containing �70 was missing.

In April last year Friend had entered the home of a 94-year-old woman in Fieldstile in Southwold during the afternoon while she was in bed and had stolen ornaments worth �150 which had been given to her by her sister.

The fourth burglary admitted by Friend took place between September and November last year when Friend had been working as a gardener at a house in Oulton Road North in Lowestoft.

He had stolen jewellery belonging to his employer which was worth �1,640.

The court heard that some of the stolen property had been found at Friend's home, but other stolen property had not been recovered.

Richard Potts, for Friend, said his client expected to receive a lengthy custodial sentence.

He said Friend had assisted police by taking them to properties he had burgled.

Mr Potts said that, although Friend had been convicted of robbery and manslaughter when he was 14, there was no suggestion he had used or threatened violence during the burglaries.

After the case, Det Insp Darrell Skuse, of Suffolk police, said: 'Friend's crimes were truly despicable, targeting the most vulnerable residents in the most underhand way.'

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