100 burglaries of Leeds drug addict

A burglar who stole more than £24,000 from the homes of vulnerable elderly women has been jailed for four years.

Thomas Cawley, 28, admitted taking 3,000 from an 87-year-old woman's wardrobe after sneaking into her home in Meanwood, Leeds, on June 6.

Cawley, of Rookwood Gardens, Osmondthorpe, Leeds, asked for 53 other burglaries to be taken into account, many involving pensioners, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Prosecuting, Stephen Downing said Cawley, a heroin addict, had 49 previous convictions for burglary and received his first sentence at the age of 10.

Sentencing him to four years, Recorder Carl Gumsley said: "People of that age are entitled to live their lives properly and without being targeted by people who prey on them like you.

"People are entitled to have their homes protected and there has to be consideration given to their feelings and their concerns."

Mr Downing told the court that Cawley sneaked into the pensioner's home while she was in the garden, taking 3,000 intended for her daughter from the wardrobe as well as 10 and some euros from her purse.

A neighbour saw him driving away in a taxi and took down the registration number, which led to his arrest at Hollywood Bowl in Kirkstall, Leeds, that day.

James Littlehales, mitigating for Cawley, said he had a troubled childhood and was introduced to burglary by older men, who made his crawl through cat flaps to steal house keys.

He said Cawley, who is now on a methadone programme, was saving up to repay his victims and hoped to follow in the footsteps of his brother, who now leads a crime-free life.

He told the court: "His sole purpose in life has been to obtain money to fund and continue to fund his drug addiction. He's at the stage of his life where he is effectively free from heroin and he's starting to appreciate the effect he must have had on his victims."

After the hearing Detective Sergeant Marcus Dawson said: "Cawley is a prolific burglar who callously went into an elderly lady's home and took a large amount of cash.

"The sentence reflects how seriously both ourselves and the CPS take incidents of domestic burglary."