‘Menace to society’ jailed for six years

A CAREER criminal who targeted vulnerable victims across Waveney in a string of distraction burglaries was jailed for six years this week after a judge branded him a 'menace to local society'.

Stephen Friend, 35, who was jailed for 27 months in March for burglary, was reinterviewed by police after victims of other offences recognised his photograph in newspaper reports of his conviction, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Friend, formerly of Normanston Drive, Lowestoft, made admissions to police and took them on a tour of the Lowestoft and Southwold areas, pointing out houses where he had committed crimes.

He later admitted four offences of burglary and asked for 15 similar offences to be considered.

At least two of Friend's victims were aged over 90, the court heard.

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Jailing him for six years to run concurrently with his present sentence, Recorder John Gallagher said Friend had deliberately targeted the elderly and had used distraction tactics. He told him: 'You are menace to local society.

'You showed no sympathy or respect for age and you showed no feelings for the people you burgled.'

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David Holborn, prosecuting, told the court on Wednesday that in 2007 Friend had broken into a house in Denmark Road, Lowestoft, and stolen a handbag and other items worth �160.

In January 2009, he knocked on the door of a house in Ballygate, Beccles, belonging to a 97-year-old partially-sighted woman, who invited him in after mistaking him for one of her friends.

Once inside, Friend asked her for a glass of water but when the woman returned Friend had gone and her purse containing �70 was missing.

In April last year, Friend entered the home of a 94-year-old woman in Fieldstile, Southwold, during the afternoon while she was in bed and stole ornaments worth �150 which had been given to her by her sister.

The fourth burglary he admitted took place between September and November last year when Friend was working as a gardener at a house in Oulton Road North in Lowestoft. He stole jewellery worth �1,640 from his employer.

The court heard some of the stolen property was found at Friend's home but other items had not been recovered.

Richard Potts, for Friend, said his client expected to receive a lengthy custodial sentence.

However, Friend had assisted police by taking them to properties he had burgled.

Mr Potts said that, although Friend had been convicted of robbery and manslaughter when he was 14, there was no suggestion he had used or threatened any violence during the burglaries.

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