A woman moved herself into a house on Corby's Lodge Park estate while the owners were on holiday before stealing their savings.
Neighbours saw Kelly Marshall coming and going in one of the victim's cars and she even waved hello at them while brazenly using their house as a hotel and stealing their money, Northampton Crown Court heard yesterday (June 24).
The victims - a woman, her husband and her brother - had gone on their holidays for a week in August 2018 leaving their Bute Close home locked and secured. They returned on August 10 to find a wheeled bin moved, their side gate jammed, a brown stain near a bathroom window and a broken bedroom door handle. Their car was also not parked in its usual position.
On checking their money boxes, the woman realised that £600 had been stolen, and then her brother discovered the theft of £500. Two new bank cards, which had been due to arrive at the house while the occupants were on holiday, had also been taken. The cards had been used on August 7, 8, 10 and 11 including for a hotel room in Daventry that cost £360.
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After the burglary was reported to police, one neighbour told officers she was surprised the house had been burgled because there had been a house-sitter there. She told police she had had a conversation with Marshall, a mum of two and grandmother, on two separate days and had seen her using the neighbour's car. Another had seen her on a different day using the vehicle, waving at her as she drove off.
Police discovered that Marshall, 42, now of Rothwell, had got into the property through a bathroom window. Her fingerprints were found throughout the house.
She gave a prepared statement in her interview with police then failed to turn up for her first court date. Police learned that Marshall had been in a relationship with the victim's son and had become addicted to drugs after losing the ends of her fingers in a serious accident in 2010.
In a victim personal statement to the court, the woman said she had felt betrayed and shocked that the defendant could take advantage of her in such a way.
She had also been left upset because among the cash was a Scottish £5 note that had been given to her by her late mother.
The court heard that Marshall had a previous drink driving conviction and a fixed penalty for shoplifting but no other offences on her record.
In mitigation, the court was told that after losing her fingers she had become addicted to morphine. Her relationship with the victim's son had involved drug taking and the money stolen was to buy drugs as her 'life spiraled out of control.' Marshall was now drug-free, the court heard, had turned her life around and moved out of the area but remained on benefits.
Sentencing, Michael Auty QC said that there were aspects of the case that were 'incredibly mean-spirited'.
He said that her crimes would ordinarily have attracted a prison sentence with a starting point of nine months, but that he had taken into account her lengthy mitigation and the fact that 14 months had elapsed since the incident.
"To order her to pay compensation would just put her back right back to what put her in this position in the first place," he said.
"The victims will feel justifiably aggrieved by that.
"This was a mean-spirited, nasty offence. It will have caused a lot of hurt to people who would have probably helped you if you had gone to them for help.
"My choice was to send you to prison for a short period of time, you'd come out in a few weeks probably much worse than before you went in and it would damage, not help, your chances of effective rehabilitation."
Marshall was given a 12 month community order with 20 rehabilitation activity requirement days and a six-month mental health treatment condition.