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OAP, 90, befriended by thief to steal cash

A frail pensioner burgled by a man who befriended her by offering to run errands is warning others not to fall victim the same way.

A frail pensioner burgled by a man who befriended her by offering to run errands is warning others not to fall victim the same way.

Ninety-year-old Edna Whittaker, of St James Avenue, Gawsworth, lost her independence and confidence after callous thief Barrie Clarke stole from her home, according to close relatives.

He was caught stealing £100 from Edna’s handbag and purse after the family’s suspicions led to police installing a CCTV camera inside her flat.

Clarke, 28, of Devon Close, Macclesfield, was jailed for 16 months at Chester Crown Court last week.

Interviewed by the Express after hearing about Clarke’s imprisonment, the great grandmother of two, who has lost two stone since Clarke struck, said: "I just keep myself to myself now. It is worrying if you need someone to help and it’s not been pleasant."

Daughter Lynn Royle, 69, also from Gawsworth, said: "She was independent and had no reason to question it. This guy befriended her asking if there was anything she needed doing and if she needed a paper.

"Now she has lost her independence and confidence. It’s been terrible."

Granddaughter Joanne Royle, 41, from Amberley Road, Macclesfield, added: "She’s upset because she did like him because he was friendly but obviously trying to win her over, which he did in the end.

"She’s lost a lot of weight because she’s not eating and she used to go outside to sit on the bench and isn’t doing that any more.

"For years she has been happy here and never had any problems. This is home to her. It’s an awful thing to happen and she wants to stop it happening to somebody else."

Edna has lived in the flat for 19 years and called Macclesfield home for the past 65 years. She ran two shops in the town with her second husband, RRon Whittaker – a grocers on South Park Road and a sweets and tobacco shop on Mill Road.

She tragically lost her first husband, Robert Evans, who died while serving with the RAF during the Second World War, just days after daughter Lynn was born.

Clarke admitted two burglaries at her flat, on April 5 and 6 this year.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary at Chester Crown Court last Wednesday (August 18) after admitting stealing £100.

The heartless thief was sentenced to 16 months in prison by Judge Clarke during the same hearing.

He appeared on an arrest warrant, which was issued after he failed to appear at a scheduled hearing earlier this month.

The Express understands he had been tracked down and arrested in London at the start of last week.

Detective Inspector Nigel Groom, head of Cheshire manlice Eastern Area Burglary Unit, said: "We installed a camera at the house because there were concerns that money was missing. It produced very clear images of Clarke taking cash from a purse and handbag.

"This was a successful investigation into a particularly unpleasant crime. We know the public are particularly concerned about criminals who prey on vulnerable people and we share that concern. We will take all possible steps to catch them and see them convicted."

 

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