A heartless burglar was blasted by a judge for his “total lack of humanity” after raiding his neighbour’s home while she lay dead in the bedroom.
Jane Melody had already been dead for up to three weeks when David Hunt forced his way into her Ansdell flat after becoming concerned about her whereabouts.
But instead of calling an ambulance when he discovered his neighbour’s lifeless body, the 38-year-old stole mobile phones, jewellery, her car keys and a credit card.
He then went on a spending spree – a decision which yesterday saw him jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Mr Hunt, who lived above 61-year-old Miss Melody’s flat on Commonside, headed into St Annes and withdrew £200 from her account and used her credit card to buy his stepson a £90 BMX.
Hours later he reported her death to the authorities.
At Burnley Crown Court yesterday, Judge Beverley Lunt said it was “very difficult to comprehend” Hunt’s “total lack of compassion and humanity” towards a woman he admitted exchanging Christmas cards with only last year.
The court heard Hunt, a self-employed electrician, had asked permission from his landlord to break into Miss Melody’s flat on June 22 this year because he was worried about her.
But the judge told him whatever public-spiritedness had been behind that gesture had been lost the moment he decided to steal her belongings.
Judge Lunt said: “You’ve described your actions in stealing her property as a ‘moment of madness’ but on your own account to the police these items were not in a pile in one room – that’s not a moment of madness.”
Hunt’s crime was discovered after officers became suspicious when none of Miss Melody’s personal belongings could be found in the flat.
They quizzed him and he admitted stealing the items – and said he planned to have the car de-registered and give it to his girlfriend.
Judge Lunt added: “(You said) to police ‘she’s dead, no-one cares’.
“Certainly you didn’t care for a lady you knew as a neighbour. You didn’t even need the money.”
In court, Hunt’s own barrister Richard Archer said his client’s crimes had been “despicable” but added he was “extremely remorseful” for his actions.
Mr Archer said Hunt had felt so guilty he had, of his own volition, paid Miss Melody’s family £600 – which he hoped would go toward her funeral costs – as well as returning the stolen items.
Hunt pleaded guilty to two offences of fraud and one of burglary. He was told he must serve 12 months for the burglary before serving two 18 month sentences – which will run concurrently – for each of the fraud offences.
After the sentence, Det Con Philip Gill, of Blackpool CID, said: “This was a particularly callous crime.
“Realising his neighbour had died he saw an easy opportunity to benefit financially and stole items from the flat.”
Det Con Bob Higham added: “The sentence reflects the cold hearted nature of his crime and shows this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated in Lancashire.”