A PREGNANT woman who acted as a lookout for her burglar partner has been spared jail as he was sent to prison for breaking the homeowner’s shoulder blade after being disturbed.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard Amy Cheeseman, who was around six months pregnant at the time, waited in a parked van in the homeowner’s driveway while Benjamin Coates ransacked the Portchester home.
When the victim returned home and quizzed Cheeseman for being on the driveway, the 29-year-old said her partner was doing some work on a house nearby.
But as the victim went inside she discovered the home had been ransacked - and came back outside to challenge Cheeseman - Coates came careering out a side door knocking the victim to the ground.
Seconds later screams of pain could be heard on CCTV footage played to jurors as the homeowner’s shoulder blade was broken in the assault.
‘Mr Coates came running outside the property carrying her property. He entered into collision with (the victim) pushing her to the floor and dropping some of her belongings. Miss Cheeseman had got into the driver’s seat,’ said prosecutor Sophie Evans.
‘(The victim) put her arm into the vehicle, Miss Cheeseman continued to drive, Mr Coates came around the vehicle and again pushed her down to the floor to get away from the car.’
It took seven weeks for the mum-of-three to be able to drive again, severely affecting her life as she cares for her disabled daughter.
Addressing Coates, Recorder James Waddington QC said: ‘One thing is plain, that you Coates, reacted to either the need to get away or to the need to prevent (the victim) from intervening in your escape and you pushed her at least once in a forceful manner so that she fell to the ground and broke her left shoulder blade.’
Precious sentimental jewellery was taken, along with gold and silver, memorabilia from when the victim was a child, and a laptop. Coates led police to where some of it was.
Coates, who has 34 convictions for 94 offences, admitted burglary, and driving while disqualified after taking the van to the scene. He asked for two non-dwelling burglaries to be taken into consideration, along with handling stolen goods and taking a vehicle without consent.
Cheeseman, of Hillfield Road, Chichester, denied her role in the burglary on February 13 at 4.30pm but was convicted by a jury. Her baby is now 12 weeks old.
Coates, 35, of Eagle Avenue, Waterlooville, was jailed for two and a half years with a 50-month driving ban.
Cheeseman was in the passenger seat, texting on her phone and had the van pointing the wrong way for an escape. She received an 18-month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity days and six-month curfew from 11pm to 8am.
She must pay £250 compensation. Cheeseman still denies her role, was cleared of dangerous driving and the judge said she showed ‘qualified remorse’.
Detective Sergeant Deborah Mason said: ‘This was a very distressing incident for the victim, who sustained a broken shoulder blade.
‘Thanks to the excellent work of the investigating team, the people responsible have been brought to justice.
‘This will hopefully provide some comfort to the victim after her ordeal, as well as reassurance to the local community.”