Doncaster woman avoids jail term for distraction burglary of elderly pensioner by asking for glass of water

Helen Mills received a suspended sentence and must undertake 150 hours of unpaid work. Picture: The Star/Doncaster Free Press
Helen Mills received a suspended sentence and must undertake 150 hours of unpaid work. Picture: The Star/Doncaster Free Press

A Doncaster woman who distracted and burgled an elderly woman dubbed 'an easy target' has avoided a prison sentence.

Helen Mills, aged 46, of Central Drive, Bawtry, targeted an 87-year-old woman who walks with a zimmer frame as she returned with her shopping on July 4.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the victim, describing herself as 'practically deaf', had a knock on the door from Mills who asked for a glass of water.

Zaiban Alam, prosecuting said: "Mills was told to wait outside. The victim closed the door but it wasn't locked. When she returned with the glass of water she found Mills in her living room.

"She drank the water and then took her purse from the table and ran."

The Court heard the purse contained £70 in cash plus debit cards. Not long after the incident, Mills was captured on CCTV buying items in the Costcutters store on Thorne Road using the contactless card method at £23.40.

Ms Alam added Mills tried to buy more items from the store but the card was declined.

Mills was identified from the shop CCTV and camera footage from a next door neighbour. She was arrested and admitted the offences, Ms Alam said.

The defendant told police she was 'desperate for money because she had lost her job', adding the money was needed to pay someone back and to get supplies.

In a statement read to the court, the victim said: "I'm more annoyed about this than anything. I've had to call a lot of people up to sort out my cards.

"I'm nervous about this happening to me again."

Mills, without legal representation, declined to explain her actions when asked to by Recorder Alistair McDonald QC.

But a previous pre-sentence report read out by Ms Alam spoke of Mills losing her employment and entered a 'panicked' and 'desperate' situation financially.

Sentencing Mills, Recorder McDonald QC said: "The custody threshold is clearly passed in this case. However, from what I've seen from the pre-sentence report and your early guilty plea, it just permits me to suspend the sentence."

Mills was given an 18 month sentence, suspended for two years. She will have to undertake 150 hours community service and pay £93.40 in compensation.

She pleaded guilty of burglary and fraud at Doncaster Magistrates' Court on August 14.