A RETIRED Belton couple have told of their relief that the man who plundered their home has been locked up, at last.
But, they say, the two-and-a-half years’ sentence meted out to 19-year-old Thomas West, of Jeffrey Lane, Belton, is nothing compared to their own “lasting legacy of fear”.
West was locked up at Scunthorpe Crown Court after police identified his DNA left on a drink can, on a wheelie bin outside a property he had burgled.
He admitted two burglary offences and two of possessing a Class B drug.
Barry and Eileen Richmond, of King Edward Street, Belton, told this week how last August they returned from a holiday with their daughter and her family in France, to find their home ransacked.
“We turned in the drive and everything looked fine so we were relieved,” said Mrs Richmond, 69. “Then Barry went in the house and came straight back out, saying we’d been done over.
“There was nothing untouched. Cupboards were ripped open, contents of drawers thrown about, glass was everywhere and the fridge and freezer drawers were swinging.”
Even now, said Mr Richmond, they are still discovering items that were taken along with jewellery, a laptop and a camera.
“It was weeks before I realised my binoculars had gone. And a brand new fishing rod bought for me on my birthday by friends. It makes you feel violated, horrible, when someone has been through everything you have.
“I found footprints on the garden last week and it made me panic,” he added. “We have full security here but burglary leaves you so vulnerable.”
The Richmonds already had CCTV protection on their property, following an earlier theft of a caravan, ironically while they were ‘house-sitting’ for their daughter in County Durham.
“CCTV footage helped the police catch West. He cut down a wire fence to get in our garden. Apparently he even sat down and had a meal at another house he burgled,” added Mr Richmond, 71.
Mrs Richmond said: “West got 30 months but we got a lifetime sentence. He broke in at 8.30am on a Sunday! It devastated us, and it’s so sad that it was a local lad.”