‘Despicable’ Portsmouth thief jailed for stealing from elderly women

Michelle Jewell
Michelle Jewell

Malicious letters detailing allegations against man being sent to homes in Portsmouth

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A ‘DESPICABLE’ criminal has been jailed after stealing thousands of pounds of goods from elderly women.

Michelle Jewell took money and jewellery from three victims aged 78, 84 and 91, and burgled a sheltered housing complex.

The 35-year-old was sentenced to three years and eight months at Portsmouth Crown Court, with Judge Robert Hill calling her crimes ‘despicable’.

The court heard Jewell, of Josephine Mews, New Road, Milton, Portsmouth, stole a purse from 78-year-old Vera Hampshire while in a pharmacy in Fratton Road in July.

After Ms Hampshire realised her purse was missing, the store checked CCTV footage, which captured Jewell committing the crime.

Jewell then used Ms Hampshire’s pension card to draw out her weekly allowance.

Two weeks later, Jewell stole a purse and keys belonging to Margaret Prendergast-Comber, 84, who lives in sheltered housing in Southsea.

Prosecutor Daniel Sawyer said: ‘The defendant stole the items from the victim in a Waitrose store. The CCTV cameras were checked and showed her taking the bag.

‘She then went to the victim’s house and stole a pair of 18ct gold earrings, a sapphire and diamond broach, an 18ct gold necklace and a string of pearls.

‘The jewellery valued at £3,325 was never recovered.’

The court heard on that same day in August, Jewell burgled another resident, 91-year-old Edith Gardener, who lived in the same sheltered housing complex as Ms Prendergast-Comber.

She knocked at the victim’s door and pretended to be delivering a parcel. She went inside the flat but said the parcel was downstairs and left to collect it. As she left, she took a bag which had £200 cash and £50 to £60 in a wallet.

Jewell was also in court for a theft in Croydon in which a bag was taken from a mum-of-two in a supermarket.

It was revealed in court that Jewell had a drug addiction and stole money to pay for drugs. But Judge Hill said her crimes were despicable.

‘You have got a dreadful record of dishonesty,’ he said.

‘Your life has been destroyed by a long-standing addiction to drugs. There is only one word that describe this kind of offending – despicable.’

Jewell was sentenced to three years and eight months in prison. Judge Hill also imposed an 11-month suspended sentence she received in June from a different string of thefts to run consecutively.

She was fined a victim surcharge of £120.

Thefts leave victims panicky and unable to sleep

A VICTIM of Michelle Jewell’s crimes says the theft has left her ‘panicky and unable to sleep’.

Vera Hampshire, 78, had her purse stolen by Jewell at a pharmacy and a victim statement was read out in court. She said: ‘This has left me feeling very panicky.

‘I was unable to sleep because I was worried. My purse had personal details in it and I was worried she could get to me at home.’

A second victim, 84-year-old Margaret Prendergast-Comber, had her purse and jewellery stolen.

She said: ‘I think about what happened day and night. I will never forgive the person who did this even though I have been asked to by my daughter.’