Blackpool burglar who targeted the elderly left OAP in tears

A burglar who targeted the homes of four vulnerable people including an amputee and stroke victim during a three hour crime spree has been jailed for five years.

Tuesday, 28th March 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 8th April 2017, 10:25 pm
Darren Crawford, 36, of Knowle Avenue, Blackpool, was jailed for five years for burglary.
Darren Crawford, 36, of Knowle Avenue, Blackpool, was jailed for five years for burglary.

Darren Crawford, 36, of Knowle Avenue, North Shore, pretended he was selling cigarettes after walking into the homes of three of his victims.

Preston Crown Court heard the recovered addict committed the crimes to try to raise cash for a bond for accommodation for him and his children after his wife died of bowel cancer while he served his last jail term.

In January he struck at the home of a 71-year-old stroke victim on Beattock Place who had fallen asleep in his lounge and stole £170.

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In an emotional statement the pensioner said he had cried when explaining what had happened to a financial firm, which had charged him a late payment for a bill he couldn’t afford.

He said: “I’m so panicked, my heart beats fast and I start to sweat and feel sick. I’m a pensioner and rely on the state pension.

“When I nod off in my chair any slight movement or noise I am immediately panicked.

“I’m frightened to death as I have suffered two heart attacks.

“This person has come along and taken away my trust. If this person had asked for help I would have willingly taken him under my wing.

“I want to tell this person yes I’m an old man and I’m disabled and and he has now made me feel like I’m a hundred years old.

“I’m a very very sad man because of this and want to tell that person what he has done to me.”

Prosecuting, Joe Allman said: “He woke up as if he felt a draught and on opening his eyes he saw a figure dressed in black with hood covering his face.

“He then saw the defendant run out of his lounge door.”

On the same day, a 56-year-old amputee, who uses a wheelchair, heard tapping on his door.

Mr Allman added: “He got in his wheelchair and could see a figure outside.

“He opened the door and a man walked into his hallway.

He moved his wheelchair to stop him.

Crawford then said he was looking for a mate who used to live at the flat and he used to sell tobacco to him.

The court was told earlier he had struck at the home of a 69-year-old man on Stronsay Place, wearing a hood and dark clothes – but fled when the victim saw him as he went to use the toilet.

He was also inadvertently let in to the home of a 75-year-old woman who uses a zimmer frame, but mumbled excuses and left after realising her daughter was also present at her home on Braemar Walk.

Crawford admitted burglary and three attempted burglaries.

Defending, Rachel Woods said:” On his last sentence he served, his wife of 10 years sadly passed away . He had been with her for 15 years.

“She was diagnosed with bowel cancer and died three months later.

“He attend her funeral in handcuffs in front of his children. Upon his release his life was in complete disarray.

“Their property was no longer available.

“He was trying to raise money for a bond to find accommodation for him and his two children.

Judge Andrew Woolman said: “In each case there was an encounter and the victims were elderly or disabled people who have been seriously affected by what you did.

“I’ve heard your circumstances but nothing excuses burgling the houses of elderly people.”