Flooding victim betrayed by helper who stole cash and jewellery

Bradford Crown Court

Bradford Crown Court

A victim of the Calderdale floods was betrayed by a “friend” who had helped him with repair work to his damaged home, a court heard.

Householder Andrew Kershaw had to move into his girlfriend’s home in Bentley Avenue, Lightclife, after being forced out of his own property in Mytholmroyd last Christmas, but his trust in her then neighbour Jack Leach was betrayed when he twice burgled their house.

Leach, who now lives in Charles Street, Elland, stole hundreds of pounds in cash as well as two irreplaceable rings which were handed down to Mr Kershaw by family members.

The “missing” money led to arguments between the couple, but after suspicions were raised that someone was getting into the house with a key Leach was arrested.

Prosecutor Carmel Pearson said his fingerprints were found on a jar which had contained hundreds of pounds in coins and he pleaded guilty to stealing money and jewellery during the two burglaries.

Bradford Crown Court heard that Leach had no previous convictions for burglary, but at the time of the offences he was stealing to fund a cocaine habit.

Barrister Anne-Marie Hutton, for Leach, said he was “thoroughly ashamed and appalled” by his own behaviour.

Recorder Toby Wynn said Leach had betrayed the complainants after Mr Kershaw had had the misfortune to be driven out of his home by the floods.

The judge said he was disgusted by Leach’s behaviour and he deserved to go immediately to prison, but he had decided as an act of mercy to suspend the 18 month sentence for two years.

Recorder Wynn, who had read a letter from Leach’s employer, said a prison sentence would devastate the defendant’s life and could mean he would never get another job. Leach will be subject to supervision for 18 months and must do 120 hours unpaid work.