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Sent to prison after stealing from elderly

By Wells Journal  |  Posted: October 25, 2012

A serial burglar who robbed a 90-year-old Wells woman during a four hour crime spree has been jailed for four years.

Timothy Gilheany broke into the homes of four elderly women in a county wide series of raids on May 14 last year

Gilheany and an accomplice first entered the home of a 95-year-old woman in Wincanton after distracting her shortly after mid-day and, less than an hour later, an 88-year-old woman answered her door to a man who claimed to be a gardener and walked straight in. A second man appeared on the patio and then they both left, Taunton Crown Court was told.

At about 2pm, a 90-year-old woman in Wells saw a man looking through her front window and approach her door. He walked in uninvited and went into the living room when she opened the door and a second man appeared, said Caroline Bolt, prosecuting.

A neighbour of the Wincanton woman gave the police their car number and it was identified in Bristol Road, Bath, shortly after 3.30pm, around before a woman of 94 answered her door to a man who walked in uninvited. She called police after finding £400 missing from her purse after he left.

Police then saw and followed the car, but it sped away before being found abandoned and a police dog found Gilheany nearby. His accomplice, Michael Pearson, was arrested a week later.

Gilheany, 29, of Leader Street, Bristol, admitted four burglaries and asked for a burglary of a 95-year-old-man, who pushed him out of his house, to be taken into consideration.

Pearson, 40, of Sunnybanks, Bristol, who had earlier admitted burglary and motoring offences, failed to attend the court and a warrant was issued for his arrest without bail.

Mark Worsley, defending, said Gilheany had an 82-year-old mother and felt he had let his family down. His problem was drugs and he was jailed in 2001 and 2006 for other dwelling burglaries.

Recorder Peter Towler said he served three years in a youth offenders' institution for his first conviction followed by three years in prison.

Targeting elderly victims was something he did "repeatedly".

"While one of you distracts the householder the other attempts to steal something. In this case, you stole £160 from a 90-year-old in Wells and £400 from a 94-year-old in Bath and none was recovered," he added.

"The reason the courts are so concerned about people who target very elderly people is the psychological damage that can be done. Many, as a result, will be terrified to open the door to anyone in future."

There was a gap in his offending between coming out of prison and starting again last year, which was due to taking drugs again – but that was no excuse, the court heard.

"I am told you are remorseful – I am not sure the probation officer came to that conclusion," said the judge.

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