Bur­glar caught in act thanks to pen­sioner’s cat

PRO­LIFIC OF­FENDER JAILED FOR MORN­ING BREAK-IN

The Chronicle - - News - By SARA NICHOL Re­porter sara.ni­h­col@ncj­me­dia.co.uk @SaraNi­chol10

A PEN­SIONER was alerted to a bur­glar’s pres­ence in her bun­ga­low by her pet cat.

In­truder Lee Wooden had let him­self into the el­derly lady’s South Shields home through an un­locked front door and helped him­self to her purse, cash, mo­bile phone and cru­ci­fix pen­dant

But the 46-year-old was caught in the act af­ter the shocked vic­tim, who lives alone, was alerted by her cat’s be­hav­iour and she con­fronted him in her hall­way, a court heard.

Se­rial thief Wooden, who has 52 past of­fences for bur­glary, told the pen­sioner he was look­ing for some­one be­fore he fled the prop­erty as she called the po­lice.

How­ever, the ca­reer crim­i­nal was found soon af­ter try­ing to jump over a nearby fence and ar­rested, New­cas­tle Crown Court was told.

Now, Wooden, of Brook­side Av­enue, Blyth, has been jailed for three years af­ter he ad­mit­ted one count of bur­glary.

Rachel Masters, prose­cut­ing, said the vic­tim had left her front door un­locked af­ter let­ting her cat in on the morn­ing of April 11 this year.

Ms Masters told the court. “The com­plainant no­ticed her cat had be­come un­set­tled. As a re­sult she looked through to the door at the front and dis­cov­ered the front door open.”

The court heard that the vic­tim ini­tially thought the post­man may have ac­ci­den­tally opened her door but checked one of the bed­rooms for a pos­si­ble in­truder. One re­turn­ing to the hall­way, she was en­coun­tered by a star­tled Wooden, who pre­tended to be look­ing for some­one called Mary.

Ms Masters added: “The com­plainant told the de­fen­dant to leave im­me­di­ately. He re­peated he was look­ing for ‘Mary.’ She opened the door and he left, ini­tially walk­ing up the road then com­menc­ing a run.”

The vic­tim then dis­cov­ered that Wooden had taken her purse, which con­tained £160 cash, credit card and a re­wards card, a cru­ci­fix pen­dant, a Mor­risons voucher, a mo­bile phone and a diary.

The po­lice were called and of­fi­cers gave chase when they spot­ted Wooden jump­ing over a nearby fence.

He was caught, ar­rested and found in pos­ses­sion of the stolen goods.

Kate Barnes, mit­i­gat­ing, said Wooden had been re­leased from his last cus­to­dial sen­tence in Novem­ber 2017 but had re­lapsed into heroin use af­ter fail­ing to get the sup­port he needed.

Lock­ing him up, Recorder Christo­pher Wil­liams said: ““She [the vic­tim] has been, ac­cord­ing to her vic­tim per­sonal state­ment, left shaken and wary as a re­sult of what must have been for her, be­cause she phys­i­cally con­fronted the de­fen­dant, a very fright­en­ing in­ci­dent in­deed.”

Lee Wooden was locked up for three years for the South Shields bur­glary

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