Theft from elderly man as mean as it gets – says Plymouth judge
A HEROIN addict who befriended an elderly neighbour and then stole thousands of pounds from him has been jailed for four years.
A judge said Ben Stacey preyed on the 79-year-old in an offence he branded "as mean as it gets".
Stacey stole between £3,000 and £5,000 from the man while visiting his flat and drinking his tea, Plymouth Crown Court heard.
Judge Graham Cottle told him: "This offence is as mean as it gets. You prey on a highly vulnerable victim and you cannot care less because your heroin habit was such that you had no thought except for where the money came from.
"You have a terrible record and you chose from an early age to live by dishonest means."
Stacey, 30, admitted theft of between £3,000 and £5,000 from the pensioner's flat in a house they shared in Ermington Terrace, Mutley, between July and September.
Jason Beal, for the Crown Prosecution Service, said Stacey and his girlfriend befriended the man and visited his flat, drinking cups of tea.
He said that the pensioner became suspicious and noticed that £40 to £50 had gone from a cupboard in his front room.
Mr Beal said he checked around the flat and estimated that between £3,000 and £5,000 had been taken. None of the money has been returned.
The court heard the man took large sums of money from his bank to pay bills in cash. The girlfriend has not been prosecuted.
Mr Beal added Stacey had a long record for burglary and theft dating back to 1998.
Ali Rafati, for Stacey, said he had served several long prison terms. But he said he had not been given a court order to treat his drug addiction for five years.
He said Stacey wanted to tackle his heroin abuse and stop offending.
Mr Rafati added: "He wants to walk away from this."
He urged the judge to impose a long order to treat his drug addiction under strict probation supervision.
Judge Cottle said Stacey had been given chances in the past to tackle his habit.
He added he could be given treatment in custody.