A Hartlepool man has been jailed for raiding the home of a 91-year-old woman with dementia
Serial thief Paul Bradshaw forced the rear door of the woman's flat in the West Park area of South Shields, while she was inside, carried out a search through her belongings and helped himself around £1,000.
Newcastle Crown Court heard when the pensioner's carer visited at lunchtime on December 1, the victim was standing in her living room in a state of distress and said "look what's happened".
The confused pensioner told the carer a male person had been in the house and stole her money but was unable to give a description or proper details because of her condition.
Heroin addict Bradshaw was collared when police checked cctv, which showed him and another man, who has not yet been found, forcing the victim's door and revealed the registration of their getaway car.
The 42-year-old, of Elgin Road, Hartlepool, who has previous convictions for house raids and was on two suspended sentences at the time, admitted burglary.
He claimed he was unaware of the age or condition of the victim, which was rejected outright by prosecutors.
Judge Tim Gittins sentenced him to three years and ten months behind bars.
The judge said: "The fact is, you travelled from your home area to South Shields on the morning of December 1, with another man who remains unidentified, and you forced the rear door of that house.
"It was the home address of a 91-year-old woman, living alone and, with the attendance of carers, was able to live alone despite suffering from dementia.
"What you did left an already vulnerable woman extremely distressed, shaken and unsure, she was confused by the requirement for new locks afterwards.
"Undoubtedly, she has suffered as a result of your actions.
"Clearly, your heroin addiction has ruined your life but also ruined the lives of those you have offended against."
Bradshaw, who was sentenced via videolink to HMP Durham, shook his head, appeared to wipe away tears and mumbled when the judge was talking.
When asked if he had something to say, Bradshaw replied: "I was saying sorry."
The victim's niece told police her aunt has been left "shaken and scared" by what happened and gets frequently upset.
Prosecutor Paul Rowland told the court: "She believes her aunt's health has suffered because of this burglary."
Bradshaw, who has convictions for 49 previous offences including burglary, theft and deception, was on two suspended sentences when he carried out the raid.
One was imposed last June for offences of attempted theft and the other was imposed last September for a commercial burglary.
The court heard Bradshaw's life has been blighted by a long-standing heroin addiction.
Prosecutors accept he used no force or violence towards his 91-year-old victim.