Disabled woman wakes to find burglar in her bedroom

A housebound disabled woman woke up to find a burglar stealing her mobile phone – "her one lifeline to the outside world".

Carolynn Walker knew her victim was vulnerable because the kind woman had previously invited her in for a glass of water.

But that didn't stop the burglar climbing in through a bedroom window and removing a portable CCTV camera to cover her tracks.

When the victim shouted "what are you doing?" Walker took the phone and ran – locking the front door and taking her keys.

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Liverpool Crown Court heard 30-year-old Walker struck at the woman's bungalow in Walton, at 7.44am, on July 24 this year.

Chuba Nwokedi, prosecuting, said the property was secure, except for a bedroom window, which the victim left ajar for her cat.

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She woke to find Walker – who she recognised and knew as "Kaz" – standing in her room, looking at her bedside cabinet.

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Mr Nwokedi said: "She knows Miss Walker from the local area as she begs outside an off licence and has in the past attended the victim's address to try and sell her things. She says at one point she has let her in, to give her a glass of water."

The court heard the victim had "very limited mobility" and was previously burgled, so had CCTV equipment installed.

Walker took a camera from her bedroom window, however, the footage was uploaded to cloud-based storage online.

The victim downloaded it to a tablet and called police, who viewed the clip and arrested Walker at her Selina Road, Walton home.

The stolen phone and house keys were not recovered, but officers discovered the phone's case and the camera.

Walker, who gave no comment in an interview but later admitted burglary, has 12 previous convictions for 22 offences.

They include 12 counts of theft and similar offences and she was also convicted of burglary and theft from a dwelling in 2012.

Mr Nwokedi said the rest of her convictions – ending in 2014 – were for shoplifting and theft from the person.

He said the victim suffered "a significant degree of loss", adding: "The phone stolen contains a lot of personal information for her – family photos, online banking, log-in details.

"Everyone is so connected to our phones these days your honour, especially for a woman like this, who is disabled, this is her one lifeline to the outside world."

He said the phone cost around £120 and the victim paid nearly £175 for a new handset.

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Mr Nwokedi said: "This was an expense she could ill afford, however, this was necessary as her family do live in a different area and this was one way to keep in touch with her."

The woman was still trying to sort out her online banking at the time of writing a victim statement and couldn't easily visit a bank during lockdown.

Mr Nwokedi said: "The victim has been left feeling devastated and vulnerable, shocked that someone she had been so kind to in the past was capable of doing this to her."

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Ken Heckle, defending, said there was little or no mitigation for the burglary and Walker – who turned up late for court and cried throughout in the dock – was "at a loss" as to why she did it.

He said: "It was opportunistic. She is on hard times."

The lawyer said Walker had been a victim "in the historical past" and later in life suffered domestic violence, then struggled with alcohol and drugs.

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He said: "She feels drink is the biggest problem at the moment and wants to address that, but doesn't feel able to address the drugs."

Mr Heckle said Walker kept out of trouble for six years before this and urged the judge to spare her jail, so she could get help from a Women's Turnaround Project.

He said she had been ostracised in the community, adding: "People she likes and knows well won't even speak to her because of what she had done".

Judge Anil Murray said told Walker she knew her victim was disabled and housebound "because she befriended you".

He said: "You stole her mobile phone, you took her keys and you removed a CCTV camera, clearly in an effort to remove evidence against you."

He added: "The victim personal statement in this case makes for sad reading because you've left her very depressed and feeling even more vulnerable than she felt before. She has had problems sleeping.

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"You took her mobile phone which she describes as her lifeline, her way of keeping in touch with other people, and you took it."

Judge Murray told Walker he accepted "you've had bad things happen to you in your life" which led to alcohol, drug and mental health issues.

He said: "It may be there is a reasonable prospect of rehabilitation, given you have some insight and you have kept out of trouble for six years.

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"I'm told you want to address your addictions. I hope you do, because if you don't, you're going to find yourself spending longer and longer in prison."

However, he said: "This was a house burglary, with a disabled occupant present, and it's just too serious to be dealt with by way of anything other than immediate imprisonment."

Judge Murray jailed Walker for 10 months, who sobbed, then asked: "Am I going away?"

"You are," he replied.