“You had no right to enter, search and ransack these properties.”
Those were the words of Judge Stuart Baker as he sentenced a burglar who targeted vulnerable elderly men in their own homes to eight years in jail.
David Kenny, 48, even took a walking stick off one of his frail victims so he could not follow him around the property while he ransacked his rooms looking for his money.
Kenny, of no fixed abode, denied three house burglaries during a two day trial at Preston Crown Court but was found guilty of all three.
The court heard in the first burglary, at 6am on February 9 on Fir Trees Avenue, Ribbleton, his victim, a lone woman, was asleep.
He disturbed the frightened woman who used her mobile to ring her landline to scare him away and he fled with her handbag and a child’s Leapster games console.
He was charged with the offence.
But while on bail for it he intentionally targeted two flats in St Paul’s Court sheltered accommodation complex in Preston on April 20.
Police said his first victim, a 70-year-old man with learning difficulties, had to give evidence against him in court through specialist video interviewing.
The second victim, an 84-year-old man who suffers from dementia and, although it was identified his wallet had been stolen, due to his memory loss the quantity of cash could not be confirmed.
He was too poorly to give evidence, about the offence, which was Kenny’s 18th burglary.
The criminal was caught out by quality CCTV images from the accommodation.
The judge said although Kenny had not been before the court since 2006 and given his no fixed abode status at the time, he had no right to enter, search and ransack these properties.
He added it was his belief that he “purposely targeted the sheltered accommodation preying on the vulnerable victims”.
He went on to say that as this would be his 16th, 17th and 18th burglary he would give him the maximum penalty in this category.
Det Insp Warren Atkinson, of Preston Police, said he was very pleased with the sentence.
He said: “David Kenny intentionally targeted some of the most vulnerable members of our community in the expectation they would be unable to provide evidence against him.
“Burglaries have a significant impact on victims and it is important we continue to protect people from harm.
“This sentence sends out a strong message to anyone thinking of committing dwelling burglaries within Lancashire.
“It’s particularly disturbing that by denying his guilty he has forced a vulnerable man to go through the trial process.
“He found it very distressing and is being comforted by staff at the accommodation.
“This sentence reflects the seriousness the criminal justice places on this type of offending.
Burglary is low in Lancashire, let’s keep it that way.”
The sentence comes as Operation Julius, a three month operation targeting burglary offenders – continues.
Anyone with information about burglars or people who handle stolen goods can call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.