A DELIVERY driver has been jailed for stealing irreplaceable rings from a pensioner while he was dropping off a cooker at a pensioner’s home.
Bradley Hughes asked to use her upstairs lavatory but sneaked into a bedroom where he snatched the rings from the top of a cupboard. He went straight from her home in Efford, Plymouth, to a nearby pawn shop, where he sold them to raise cash to fund his gambling addiction. He was working for DHL and delivering a cooker which the 71-year-old woman had bought from Argos.
He was employed despite having an identical conviction for burglary while working as a driver in 2013 and four convictions for stealing from employers. Hughes went on to stalk his ex partner after their six-year relationship broke down, bombarding her with calls and Facebook messages, following her around Crediton and telling her he had fitted a tracker on her car. He carried on even though he was arrested, using a different phone and his mother’s “Facebook” account to send a stream of unwanted messages.
Hughes, aged 41, of Vaughan Road, Exeter, admitted burglary, stalking and harassment and was jailed for a total of 20 months by Judge Peter Johnston at Exeter Crown Court. He told him: “While working as a delivery driver, you went to the home of a 71-year-old retired lady to deliver a cooker. Under the pretext of using the lavatory, she trustingly allowed you to go upstairs and there you stole jewellery. “That jewellery was impossible to value because of its sentimental value. One of the rings had been a present for her 40th birthday and the other was her mother’s ring.”
The judge said the stalking had caused real distress to the victim. He made a five-year restraining order forbidding any contact with her or going to her Crediton home or workplace, also in the town. Mr Thomas Faulkner, prosecuting, said Hughes made the delivery to the pensioner’s home in Plymouth on January 9 this year, and she noticed the two rings were missing shortly after he left. His driver’s mate told police Hughes had gone straight from the delivery in Efford to the Bring or Buy pawn shop. Checks showed he had pawned the rings, which were valued at £793.
The stalking started when Hughes split up from the Crediton woman after they returned from holiday in August. He went to her workplace where he became so abusive she had to leave early to get away.
Over the next week he followed her when she went on a weekend break, chased her through Devon lanes when she tried to get away from him, sent threatening “Facebook messages”, and 40 to 50 calls a day. He told her he had fitted a tracker on her car and said: “I will find you, no matter what you do.”
He was arrested and bailed with a non contact condition but carried on the harassment for another three days, until he was arrested again and remanded in custody. At his second arrest he responded with the one word “unbelievable”. The Crediton woman made a victim personal statement which said: “I am feeling highly emotional. He is playing with my emotions because he knows I am kind and caring. I’m scared. I feel I’m walking on egg shells. I can’t sleep and I’m living on my nerves.”
Mr Joss Ticehurst, defending, said Hughes was working for a builder when he was arrested. His job is still open and he would be able to pay compensation for the rings if he was released. He said he stole the jewellery because he had a gambling addiction, but has been working with Gamblers Anonymous. Mr Ticehurst said the stalking happened because Hughes could not understand why his ex-partner had left him and was trying to get an answer to why she had ended the relationship.