Burnley jewel thief jailed for two years

Burnley and Pendle Citizen: James Donnelly James Donnelly

A HOUSE raider who struck at the home of an Alzheimer’s sufferer and stole irreplacable sentimental jewellery from another property, is behind bars for two years.

Drug user James Donnelly, 21, targeted two houses during the day when his victims were out.

He took a gold watch and necklace worth £400 from one home in Brierfield and was caught after leaving finger prints on a window that had been forced, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Donnelly, who was sent to youth custody for 20 months for two burglaries in November 2010, denied taking part in one of the latest break-ins, but was convicted by a jury after a two-day trial. He still maintained he hadn’t done it even after the verdict.

The defendant, of St John’s Road, Burnley, had admitted the other offence before Pennine magistrates and had been committed to the higher court for sentence.

Sentencing, Judge Jonathan Gibson said the defendant, who has been in custody two or three months, had previously been engaging with the police-run Revolution Project.

He told Donnelly: “You say you feel guilty about the trouble you have caused your parents and you have to reflect on that and upon the victims because house burglary is a dreadful crime. It makes victims feel insecure in their own homes.”

Tim Storrie, prosecuting, said Donnelly burgled a couple’s house in Brierfield. The victims, one of whom has Alzheimer’s, had gone for a walk and returned to find jewellery missing.

At the other house, the defendant took sentimental jewellery worth several hundred pounds and £200 in cash. He also had convictions for shoplifting and stealing lead from a roof.

Mark Stuart, for Donnelly, said a custodial sentence must follow. He was with another person who went into the Brierfield house. The defendant was outside and his fingerprints were on the window sill.

The barrister said: “He has always been willing to accept his guilt in relation to that. He maintains he didn’t do the other.” He added the defendant took cannabis.

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