Family's trap catches teenager stealing thousands from gran's loft to pay for drugs

Sheffield Crown Court
Sheffield Crown Court

A teenager who stole over £4,000 from his grandmother and aunt was caught in the act after family members set a trap.

James Patrick carried out thefts from money stored in envelopes in his grandmother's loft in her house in Doncaster.

But after his family realised money had been going missing, CCTV was set up in the loft and the remaining envelopes coated with a special powder that shows up on anyone who touches it.

Patrick, aged 19 and now of Lincoln, said he had initially come across the envelopes while helping his grandmother in the loft and 'was surprised he had taken so much' after it was uncovered he had taken £1,900 from his grandmother and £2,200 from his aunt.

Sheffield Crown Court heard his grandmother was so frightened that others known to the defendant may come to her house for the remaining money that she has put her house on the market and moved to rented accommodation to Scarborough.

James Baird, defending Patrick, said his client has no previous convictions and while his grandmother is 'very disappointed', she did not wish to see him go to jail.

He said his client has admitted he has a cannabis problem for the first time as a result of the criminal proceedings.

Mr Baird said: "I don't think anybody was aware of that but it probably explains why he was no longer living with his parents and why eventually his grandmother has got fed up of him."

Recorder Smith, the judge in the case, said: "I can see no reason why he shouldn't pay back every penny."

He told the defendant he should be ashamed of his actions.

"Not only do you have to live with that shame but you have to live with those who are your victims. There are bridges to build," he said.

He ordered the teenager to repay the money in full within 18 months, sentencing him to a community order of 12 months and 200 hours of unpaid work.

The judge told the defendant: "I imagine you will learn from your experience of going through the police system and the court system and we will never see you again."