A TEENAGE boy who burgled a partially-sighted 91-year-old woman’s home while her husband was in hospital has been spared jail.
Jonathan Jackson, 18, of Chestnut Walk, Gosport, was with three other boys when he burgled the pensioner’s home in May’s Lane, Stubbington.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard the burglary took place on July 4, 2017 and the defendant was caught by police with a cat mask and multi-tool in the street shortly after ransacking the woman’s home.
Brazen Jackson, who was 17 at the time, was wearing a signet ring stolen from the woman’s home and was carrying a couple of bottles of alcohol, possibly taken in the burglary.
Two purses, £100 cash, bank cards, a bottle of rum, and a 9ct gold chain were also taken.
At least one of the thieves had even taken a swig from a bottle of sherry.
Judge William Ashworth spared Jackson a lengthy jail sentence of between two to six years after ruling that the unusual delay was not his fault. The judge said Jackson would have received a community-based sentence if he was still a youth.
But addressing Jackson, the judge made clear his offence had devastated the victim - who is now trying to move on with her life.
Judge Ashworth said: ‘If one looked at what you were doing through your eyes and position of immaturity at that time you might not have realised the import of what you were doing.
‘But there was an elderly partially-sighted lady whose husband was not at home because he was in hospital at 3am.
‘Waking up to discover burglars in her house she couldn’t have known it was a group of immature boys who were struggling for their own reasons.
‘The level of fear and the vulnerability of somebody in that situation is one where the guidelines that we have for adults would mean there would be no question - you would be imprisoned and it would be long.’
Jackson, whose fingerprints were found at the house, admitted burglary. The court heard he was leaving care and his father died at the time of the burglary.
‘He regrets it a lot,’ said his lawyer Daniel Reilly.
Judge Ashworth said Jackson was described as a ‘different lad’ by a social worker.
‘The work that should have been done with the criminal justice system should have been done then rather than now, rather than now trying to pry back into what were very difficult life circumstances at that time,’ he said.
A co-defendant, who cannot be named, faces a trial at youth court over the burglary.
Judge Ashworth imposed a two-year community order with 25 rehabilitation activity days, 100 hours' unpaid work and 28-day curfew running between 7pm-7am.
He said: 'Just because I'm imposing a community-based penalty doesn't mean that this wasn't a very serious and horrendous invasion of this poor person's privacy.'