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Drug addict stole from vulnerable victim

Burnley Magistrates' Court
Burnley Magistrates' Court
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A drug addict stole around £400 from a vulnerable 84-year-old man in his own home, after tearfully begging at his feet for cash, a court heard.

Claire Bancroft has a £140-a-week heroin habit, but gets Universal Credit benefits of £260 a month. She grabbed the pensioner's s jacket and fled the Nelson property, after he refused to give her money.

The victim had already handed over £20, when she had earlier told him she had no heating or hot water and he had felt sorry for her. Bancroft had then turned up a week later, wanting more funds from the victim, her step-sister's grandad. She blew the stolen cash on drugs, food, gas and electricity, Burnley magistrates were told.

Bancroft, whose partner is behind bars, told police she was sorry for what she had done and would turn the clock back if she could. She was spared a custodial term for the "breach of trust" offence.

The 41-year-old defendant, of Tavistock Street, Nelson, is said to have a £20-a-day heroin addiction.

She admitted theft of the jacket, containing a wallet, £300 to £400, a credit card and documents, on January 4th. She was given a 12-month community order, with a 15-day rehabilitation activity requirement and a six month drugs programme. She must pay £400 compensation.

Miss Parveen Akhtar (prosecuting) told the court the victim told police that on two occasions over the Christmas period, the defendant had turned up asking for money. On each occasion, he had given her £10, after she claimed she needed it as the gas and electricity meter had run out.

The prosecutor said the victim did not see Bancroft again until January 4th, when she asked for a further £10 and he refused and asked her to leave.

Miss Akhtar said: "At this point, she crawled along the floor and started to beg at his feet, whilst sobbing. He asked her to leave again. She then jumped up, took his jacket off a hook in the living room and left the address."

Miss Laura Heywood (defending) said her boyfriend had recently left her house, her benefits had changed from fortnightly to monthly and she had trouble with the drop in income and managing it over a month rather than two weeks. It left her struggling to pay bills.