Addict burgled pensioner twice

Peter Wildsmith
Peter Wildsmith

An elderly Gainsborough woman has spoken of her ‘sadness’ for the heroin addict who burgled her house twice in one week.

The woman, 69, was the victim of Peter Wildsmith, who targeted her house in April this year.

Last Friday he was jailed for four years and asked the judge at Lincoln Crown Court to take another 22 offences of burglary and theft into account.

Wildsmith, 38, a prolific criminal, had only recently been released from prison having served half of a five-and-a-half year sentence imposed in 2008 for three burglaries, two offences of dangerous driving and two of driving while disqualified.

The court heard that following his early release, Wildsmith moved to Gainsborough to escape the grasp of his drug dealers.

But it did not take him long to fall back into criminality.

On the morning of 20th April Wildsmith knocked on the woman’s door and asked her to buy some bed sheets, the court heard.

“She declined but Wildsmith then asked if he could have a glass of water,” said Andrew Scott, prosecuting.

“Without thinking, she invited him in and went to the kitchen to fetch a glass.”

While she was gone, Wildsmith stole £12 cash and a gold brooch from another room.

She came back a minute later, he drank the water and left the house.

“This was effectively a distraction burglary of an elderly woman,” the judge told him.

The court then heard how Wildsmith returned five days later.

“This time, of course, he knew the type of person who lived there,” said Mr Scott.

The woman was on the phone in the front room for about half an hour.

During this time, Wildsmith climbed through the open bathroom window and took £145 cash from the bedroom.

The police were called and a fingerprint on the bathroom window frame led to Wildsmith being arrested the next day.

Wildsmith admitted both charges along with 18 burglaries and four shop thefts in the Gainsborough area between September 2010 and April 2011.

Defending him in court, barrister James Robottom said Wildsmith, originally from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, had struggled with heroin addiction since the age of 12 when he was taken into care.

“Each of these were opportunistic crimes, typical of acquisitive theft committed by drug addicts,” he said.

“He has lived his life either incarcerated or on the edges of society trying to support his drug habit.”

“He is only 38 – a relatively young man - but he accepts prison is the best place for him to persevere with his methadone programme.”

Sentencing Wildsmith to four years in prison, Judge John Pini QC said if Wildsmith had not been caught, many crimes would have been left unsolved.

“It is clear to me that you went back to that very same address just a few days later clearly realising she was elderly and vulnerable,” he said.

“Her statement says she now feels extremely vulnerable in her own home.”

Speaking at home after the sentence, the victim said she felt nothing but sadness for Wildsmith.

“I think it’s sad people resort to drugs but it’s a sign of the times,” she said.

“We have to take drugs to stay alive and here are these people abusing themselves.”

“Then they find themselves with no money and have to steal to fund their habit - and that hurts other people.”

The woman said she had saved up the £145 for her TV licence and the other £12 was her grandchildren’s pocket money.

She said: “If he’d said he needed money I would have given it to him and told him to get on his way.”

DC Dave Haddock of Lincolnshire Police said: “During the period of offending, Wildsmith’s activity accounted for more than half the reported burglaries in and around the town.”

“His criminality had a huge impact on people’s lives, violation of their homes and the theft of their property.”

“The fact that he will now spend a significant amount of time behind bars is fantastic for everyone living in the area.”