When ‘vile’ criminal Felix Teelin wormed his way into 89-year-old Florence Walker’s home, he thought he had found another unwitting and vulnerable victim.
But he reckoned without the quick thinking of Blackpool’s very own Miss Marple.
Serial thief Teelin is today waking up behind bars, serving a 20 month jail term, after his latest elderly victim realised what was happening and saved the cup she saw him drinking from – preserving his fingerprints for police.
Preston Crown Court heard ‘despicable’ drug addict Teelin deliberately targeted grandmother-of-40 Mrs Walker in her Blackpool home because she was vulnerable.
She said: “I deliberately didn’t wash his cup as I could see his dirty fingerprints on it.”
Odd job man Teelin managed to get upstairs and steal Mrs Walker’s purse.
But her sharp thinking in keeping hold of his fingerprints on the cup of tea he had drunk meant he was caught by police.
Mrs Walker, of Ansdell Road, Blackpool, said: “He just knocked on my door one day in February holding a pair of garden shears and asked if he could tidy up my garden.
“I felt a bit sorry for him so I told him he could.
“When my grandson arrived later on he said he didn’t like the look of him and asked him not to come again.
“But just a couple of weeks later he was back. He just didn’t quite seem right.
“He asked me to make him a brew and then he said I want £550 off you.
“He grabbed hold of the palm of my hand and wrote the figure with the tip of his finger.
“I was scared, but I told him no. He then told me to make him another cup of tea and asked if he could use the toilet.
“It made me feel uncomfortable knowing he was upstairs but I was just relieved he wasn’t demanding money.”
Unbeknown to the once aspiring police officer, the 42-year-old then went upstairs and searched through her belongings, before stealing her purse and leaving the house.
Mrs Walker, a former bus conductor, has lived alone since her husband died 20 years ago.
She said: “I kept waiting for him (Teelin) to come downstairs but he didn’t. I walked in to the front room and I could see the door was open and so was the garden gate.
“I wondered out and saw him scurrying down the road.
“It wasn’t until I got inside that I realised he had taken my purse.
“What he did was despicable. I deliberately didn’t wash his cup as I could see his dirty fingerprints on it. I thought the police could use it to catch him.
“If I had my time again I would definitely have been a police officer – I think it would be great locking up all the baddies!”
Judge Stuart Baker labelled Teelin, who had targeted two other elderly pensioners, as “mean and calculated”.
Mrs Walker’s granddaughter Christine King, 40, of Thirlmere Road, Blackpool, said: “This man is a parasite. He deserves to be named and shamed.
“People need to remember his face so it he does this again they know to ring the police straight away.”
The court heard Teelin’s DNA was discovered on the cup he had been drinking from in Mrs Walker’s home.
Jon Close, defending, said the offence was “utterly appalling” and had been committed by a man who got involved with heroin late in life.
Teelin’s previous offending had included talking his way into the home of a 92-year-old woman before stealing her purse.
Her son had installed CCTV in the house and Teelin was caught in the act.
Then in March last year, he went to the home of an 80-year-old man and stole from an upstairs bedroom.
The heroin addict, of Claremont Court, Blackpool admitted the theft. The purse and cash were never recovered. Judge Stuart Baker told him: “These offences are particularly mean. They will sap the confidence of elderly people in their homes.”
Mrs Walker has now had extra alarms fitted.