By Rod Hopkinson AN elderly woman who came face-to-face with an intruder in her home had been left terrorised, a court heard
A judge jailed 25-year-old Thomas Cawley for three years, telling him he was a professional burglar with a shocking record.
Cawley, of no fixed address, sneaked into the pensioner's home in Beckett's Park, Leeds, through an unlocked side door last year.
Despite the presence of the 79-year-old, Cawley searched her living room and stole her handbag – leaving without saying a word.
Minutes later, Leeds Crown Court was told, a neighbour looking out of the window saw Cawley rifling through her handbag and contacted the police on his mobile phone.
The witness then tailed him at a discreet distance, keeping in contact with the police until officers arrived and arrested the burglar.
Jailing Cawley, who admitted burglary, The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Norman Jones QC, told him he had taken advantage of the frailty of his victim.
"Most would have immediately ran out of the house when she came downstairs to confront you – but not you. You still wanted to steal from her," he said.
The judge added: "One can only imagine the sense of terror which went through her.
"You are a professional burglar and do it for a living. Your record for burglary is horrendous."
James Keeley, in mitigation, said Cawley had seen a video account his victim gave to the police and it had a traumatic effect on him because of the fear he had inflicted.
He said his client had been abused, physically and sexually, when young and the vast majority of his life had been spent in one institution or another.
"He has never been on the outside for Christmas since the age of nine." said Mr Keeley, who added: "He says the longest time he has been on the outside is three months."