A man who emptied a vulnerable neighbour’s flat while he was being treated for mental health issues has been jailed for three years.
Convicted burglar Terrence Swallow, 42, cut himself a key to his neighbour’s flat and helped himself to items including clothes, a £300 new double bed, a television, kettle and a toaster.
The economic value may not have been that great but it was everything this man had, at a particularly vulnerable time in his life
Preston Crown Court heard when confronted by the victim’s concerned friend at their block of flats on Holmfield Road, North Shore, Swallow lied: “He’s moved out mate.”
Judge Robert Altham said: “The facts of this case are unusual and in my judgement serious. The complainant is a gentleman who wrestles with mental health difficulties.
“It’s a particularly serious form of burglary because when the victim went back to the house it was trashed, full of rubbish, with all his items cleared out.
“The economic value may not have been that great but it was everything this man had, at a particularly vulnerable time in his life.
“Understandably, he never wants to go back there and so he has lost his home. This is an extremely mean offence.”
Lisa Worsley, prosecuting, said: “In the weeks prior to this offence the complainant had been in hospital receiving treatment for mental health issues, leaving his flat empty.
On March 4, the victim went to stay with his mother.
A friend of the victim, visited his flat and saw Swallow and another man inside and was later told he had moved out. The friend found the victim at his mum’s and told him what had happened.
The vulnerable man went to Swallow’s neighbouring flat to ask what was going on, where he saw his own dressing gown, microwave and DVD player in the defendant’s flat.
His own flat was ‘trashed’ and full of takeaway boxes. The matter was reported to police, who arrested Swallow the following day. He later admitted burglary.
Defending, Julie Taylor said: “To his credit this offence is some time ago now. he has gained employment as a builder. He has tried to disassociate himelf from others that took advantage of his learning disability and led him astray in recent times.”