Children ‘screaming’ at sight of fleeing intruder.
A career burglar has been jailed for five years after breaking into an elderly woman’s home and stealing £5,000.
Robert Franklin, 41, sneaked into the house in Whitby through an unlocked back door and crept upstairs where he found a gold make-up bag inside her wardrobe, York Crown Court heard.
He stuffed the bag - which contained £5,000 in cash - up his top, and jumped over a wall where he was spotted by three children playing in the street.
Franklin scurried away but was later arrested on the strength of evidence provided by the child witnesses.
He was charged with burglary but denied the offence.
During a week-long trial, the jury heard that the children were “screaming and crying” at the sight of the fleeing burglar, who was wearing a grey hoodie with the hood pulled up.
Prosecutor Austin Newman said Franklin, of Abbots Road, Whitby, broke into the semi-detached home at about 4pm on April 19, when the elderly victim, who was named in court, was sitting in her lounge.
She had left her back door unlocked so her carers could get in, but Franklin seized on the opportunity and was in like a flash.
Shortly afterwards, the victim’s neighbour came to see her to ask if she was OK because she had seen a man entering her property.
They went upstairs to check her bedroom and found her make-up bag containing huge bundles of cash was missing, along with a purse she had bought from Disneyland.
One of the child witnesses said Franklin accidentally barged into him as he ran from the house.
The children gave evidence in court to attest that Franklin was the hooded burglar, but the defendant - who didn’t leave any fingerprint or DNA evidence - claimed they were either mistaken or lying.
But the jury saw through his lies and on Friday found him guilty of burglary and stealing the huge cash haul.
Judge Paul Batty QC said despite there being no forensic evidence linking Franklin to the burglary, there was clear circumstantial evidence thanks to the children’s testimonies and the defendant’s unenviable criminal record for sneak-in burglaries which “describes him as something of a career burglar” who was skilled in leaving no forensic trace.
Franklin will serve half of the five-year sentence imposed by Mr Batty, who said he would be awarding the three child witnesses £50 each for their public-spiritedness and courage in giving evidence in court.