Leamington woman escapes jail after burgling her grandmother’s home during spate of offences

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A Leamington woman who burgled her own grandmother’s home during a spate of offences has escaped being jailed after a judge heard she is finally tackling her drug addiction.

Kathleen Crowley had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to six charges of fraud, having earlier admitted offences of burglary and theft.

Crowley (36) of Justice Close, Leamington, was given a two-year community order, with a rehabilitation activity and an 8pm to 6am electronically-tagged curfew for two months.

Prosecutor Ian Windridge said that in September last year Crowley and her sister Marie burgled their grandmother’s home while she was away for the weekend.

When the 77-year-old got back, she found her home in Whitnash was secure and the doors locked – but a bottle of vodka, some painkillers and two purses with money in them, £40 and 485 euros, had been taken.

The pensioner had her suspicions, so carried out her own investigation, and when Marie was challenged she admitted: “Yes I did it nan, with Kathleen.”

When Crowley was subsequently questioned, she explained that she and Marie had got drunk at home, and decided to go to their nan’s house to get a bottle of vodka so they could carry on drinking.

She said they took the vodka and the painkillers, and that Marie, who the court heard has been given a community order, went back to get the money so they could buy more drink.

Crowley was arrested after she was later seen leaving the Morrison’s store in Leamington with items worth £287 for which she had not paid.

She had also stolen clothing worth £318 from the Factory Shop in Warwick, and told the police she had done so to sell it so she could pay her rent – but had thrown it in the canal after she was unable to find a buyer.

Mr Windridge said that in the early hours of November 19 last year a man named Alan Dorgan carried out a burglary at a house in Lillington Road, Leamington, and stole a handbag.

By 5.45 that morning a bank card from the handbag was being used by Crowley in an unsuccessful attempt to withdraw cash from an ATM machine at the One Stop Shop in Tachbrook Road.

But at shortly after six o’clock she used it twice at the Morrison’s store petrol station to make contactless purchases of fuel - which CCTV cameras showed being put into a car by Dorgan.

An hour later she used it at Home Farm Stores in Whitnash to make a contactless payment for items costing £28.86.

She then tried to use it twice at shops in St Margarets Road, Leamington, where Dorgan was seen in the background at both stores, but it was declined on both occasions.

When Crowley was arrested and interviewed a few days later, she made no comment.

But when she first appeared in court, she indicated she would admit the frauds, but not the burglary, to which Mr Windridge said Dorgan has pleaded guilty.

Ian Speed, defending, said Dorgan was the father of Crowley’s ex-partner’s child, and it was after the break-up of the relationship with her ex-partner that she went off the rails and started taking heroin and then crack cocaine.

“She fell prey to others who used her to cash cards. She is in a mess, but she’s on her way out of it. She’s been free of drugs for five days now. She has good intentions, and there’s a positive report on her.”

Sentencing Crowley, Judge Peter Cooke told her: “You have been involved in one burglary which was particularly mean-spirited, and very close to another.

“Each of the offences potentially carries imprisonment, but there are things in the report on you which are impressive.

“The order is for two years because the process of getting you back onto the rails is not going to be a matter of just a few months.”