A handyman who was trusted with a key by an elderly couple so that he could make himself a cup of tea while doing odd jobs at their home took the opportunity to steal over £50,000 worth of jewellery from them, a court has been told.
Robert Branney was given the key so that he could use both the kitchen and the bathroom while the couple were out.
Phil Howes, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Branney took the opportunity to search through the house in Chauntry Road, Alford, and took watches, rings, brooches and medals.
“These were items that had been acquired by the couple over many years,” he said. “It appears there were six occasions when he was there at the house on his own which enabled him to take these items.”
Branney sold the jewellery to shops across a 30 mile radius. The couple contacted police after discovering items from their jewellery collection were missing.
Mr Howes said that officers later traced seven of the items worth £12,000 but the remaining property has not bee recovered.
“He used and abused the trust placed in him,” he said. “He took advantage when temptation and the opportunity arose.”
Branney, 30, of Birch Grove, Alford, admitted burglary between April 21 and May 24 this year. On August 15 he was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Judge Michael Heath told him “You committed an outrageous breach of trust. The public would be incandescent if I dealt with you by any other way than sentencing you to immediate custody.”
Saleem Khan, defending, said that at the time Branney had financial problems and developed a gambling habit which spiralled out of control.
He said: “He has no issues in terms of drink or drugs. He is remorseful.”