Two teenagers have narrowly escaped time in a young offenders institute after burgling a 70-year-old Northampton widow's home while she slept.
A third man, aged 18, from Northampton, was sentenced at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (September 26) after pleading guilty to breaking into and ransacking the elderly woman's bungalow.
The three teenagers, who cannot be named because of their age, were caught by a neighbour as they loaded the widow's valuables into her car, which they also planned to steal.
His Honour Judge Roger Tregilgas-Davey said: "How dare you three do that to an elderly lady. Imagine if someone had done that to someone you cared about."
The court heard how the 70-year-old went to bed early on the night of March 31. But she woke at 4.30am to her neighbour knocking at her door.
He told her he had caught three youths loading up her car. They had been minutes away from making off with her valuables before he scared off.
In her sleep, the three boys, one aged 18 and the other two aged 16, broke into her bungalow and looted it, stealing her deceased husband's watches, a 55-inch TV screen and an iPhone.
Police arrested the three boys about 10 minutes later on Wellingborough Road, where they were spotted chucking the stolen watches and phone over a wall.
In a victim impact statement read out in court, the widow said: "It terrifies me to think that would have happened if they had come into my bedroom. I no longer feel safe in my house.
"The people who have done this are scum. No one should have to feel the way I do."
All three boys pleaded guilty to burglary. The 18-year-old was on bail for previous offences at the time.
The 18-year-old was sentenced to 27 months in a young offenders institute.
The other two 16-year-olds were sentenced to a combined 90 hours work with crime prevention organisations. One of them was also barred from entering Northampton for 18 months and three months under electronic curfew.
Judge Tregilgas-Davey said to the two boys: "You have come very close to going to young offenders' institutes today. If you are seen by this court again you will be going there."