Prolific burglar conned elderly victims after open jail escape

A professional burglar from near Lincoln, who tricked his way into the homes of elderly people to steal cash and bank cards, was jailed for nine years at Lincoln Crown Court on Friday.

David Appleton carried out a series of raids on houses in Lincolnshire, North Nottinghamshire and Berkshire in the autumn of 2018 after escaping from Ford Open Prison in Sussex.

He was arrested after being tracked down to a caravan at Ingoldmells and was returned to jail to complete his sentence. However, he then went back to committing more house burglaries within days of his release from prison in January of this year.

The court was told that since the mid 1990s Appleton has served eight previous jail sentences for house burglaries and has spent most of his adult life in jail.

Judge Simon Hirst told him “You are a professional burglar. That is your job.

“You commit offences of this type against elderly and vulnerable people using a pretext to gain entry into their properties and then take sellable items.”

Appleton, 49, of Acorn Drive, South Hykeham, near Lincoln, admitted five charges of burglary carried out in October and November 2018. He also admitted two charges of burglary and a further charge of attempted burglary in January of this year.

Rose Lamb, 31, also of Acorn Drive, South Hykeham, admitted possession of criminal property including cash, bank cards and jewellery relating to the 2018 burglaries. She was given a two year community order with 100 hours of unpaid work and a rehabilitation activity requirement of 15 days.

Jeremy Janes, prosecuting, said that in the autumn of 2018 Appleton walked out of prison and later met up with Lamb.

They travelled north and Appleton began his crime spree by conning his way into the home of a 74-year-old woman in Newark Road, Ollerton, and stealing her handbag. Later the same day he tricked his way into the home of a woman in her sixties in the Nottinghamshire village of Little Carlton, near Newark, and left with her bank cards and cash after duping her into giving him her PIN number.

Mr Janes said that Appleton carried out a further house burglary in Finchampstead, Berkshire, before travelling to Lincolnshire. He took £1,150 from the home of an 88-year-old man in Hogsthorpe, near Skegness, after grabbing his victim’s wallet and pushing the man over and then burgled a house in Christopher Road, Alford.

It was after that offence that Appleton was arrested at a caravan park. He was returned to jail but following his release he broke into the home of an 86-year-old in Millers Road, Waddington and stole cash. Eight days later he tricked his way into the home of an elderly woman in Neale Road, North Hykeham, and took £160. On the same evening he attempted to get into the home of one of her neighbours but fled when she called for help from her grandson.

Amanda Penny, for Appleton, said his best mitigation was his guilty pleas.

“He has spent almost all of his adult life and some of his teenage years in custody.”

She said that Appleton had a cocaine problem and had recently been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder which was connected with his childhood.

“He knows what he has done is wrong and he is ashamed of it. He is sorry for the victims and desperately upset and ashamed of the fact that Miss Lamb stands in the dock.”

Sarah Porter, for Lamb, said her client had no previous convictions and had not been in trouble since her arrest back in 2018.

“She did not have a leading role in this,” said Miss Porter.

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