A THIEF has been jailed after stealing £800 savings from an 83-year-old widow.
The trusting pensioner was conned by serial thief John Eeles, 32, who she innocently asked to fix her TV at her Billingham home.
Police checked video footage from outside the small block of flats and identified Eeles who had 20 convictions for 51 offences, most of them for theft from homes where he had been an invited visitor.
He was on prison licence from a theft sentence at the time of the offence.
They raced to his home in the town where they found £600 hidden in a shoe and another £213 in his wallet.
Prosecutor Richard Bennett told Teesside Crown Court the money was seized by police, but Eeles denied he had stolen it from the OAP, claiming that he had earned it “scrapping”.
He only admitted his guilt on the day before his due trial on January 21, for which the defence had called her as a witness.
Eeles was outside the building on December 5 when she had asked a neighbour if he could help to tune-in her TV, but he could not. She asked Eeles and he said that he would have a look at it.
Her handbag was over a chair in the kitchen, and when Eeles went to the sink to refill a glass he suggested she should check that all the TV channels were working.
Fifteen minutes after he left she went to her handbag and she discovered that all her money had gone.
Mr Bennett read out a Victim Impact statement from the widow, now 84, who said that she had lived alone for 30 years since her husband died and she had learned to be independent because her family were in the south.
But she added: “I feel very vulnerable because I can’t trust anybody now. How could anybody do that to an 83 year old?”
Duncan McReddie, defending, said that Eeles, who had been a heroin addict since he was 15, was ashamed.
Eeles, of Mill Court, New Road, Billingham, was jailed for 30 months after he pleaded guilty to theft and ordered to pay £813. 16p compensation held by the police.