Burglar targeted homes of elderly

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A burglar who preyed on elderly people to steal cash and irreplaceable jewellery from their homes has been jailed for more than four years.

Thomas Gilheaney, 20, was involved in forcing open windows to get inside pensioners’ homes and tricking others into allowing the gang inside, Ipswich Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

Jewellery, much of which was irreplaceable and of great sentimental value, was snatched as well as cash.

Gilheaney, of Cobholm Place, in Cambridge, was caught by a woman coming out of a bedroom at her bungalow, in Park Road, in Needham Market, in October 2008.

Prosecuting, Richard Kelly said the woman ordered Gilheaney out but he claimed to be looking for a lost cat and asked her not to call the police. She later discovered her purse containing £120 in cash, cards and stamps was missing.

In December 2008, a woman was alone at her home, in Barrow Hill, in Barrow, when she realised that lights in the hallway and her bedroom were on. The room had been ransacked with £600 in cash missing together with jewellery which would cost ‘thousands’ to replace.

Two days later, in Bradbrook End, Norton, a couple found their bedroom had been searched although nothing was missing.

Gilheaney was caught by police in Newark in February 2009 when officers saw him acting suspiciously in a car with two other men.

He pleaded guilty to seven offences of burglary, including others in Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Leicestershire, as well as being in possession of criminal property.

Mandeep Singh Sehmi, in mitigation, said Gilheaney had failed to understand the impact of his crimes but now appeared to have some insight.

He was jailed for four years and four months.