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Couple stole from dying neighbour

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: May 16, 2014

By Ruth Mosalski

A COUPLE who stole from their terminally-ill neighbour have been jailed.

A judge heard yesterday how Julie Begley drank tea and wine with her neighbour, Claire Hill, but then stole items, including £40 in cash from her handbag.

The pair knew each other to say hello in the street, but it was the first time Begley had been invited inside Miss Hill's home.

Miss Hill, aged 38, had confided in her neighbour that she had been told she had between just six and 12 months to live.

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During the evening, Begley's partner Christian James went round to Miss Hill's house.

Prosecutor Brian Simpson said Miss Hill became unwell and took medication that made her drowsy. She woke up the next morning, on the sofa but with a duvet over her, and found the pair, from Heol Maes y Gelynen, had left.

She noticed her bag had been moved and her bus pass and bank card had been stolen, and reported the theft to the police.

Later that day, Begley, aged 40, and James, aged 39, returned to her Cwmrhydyceirw home. Miss Hill thought it was for them to apologise so let them in. While Begley handed back some of the stolen items, James asked to use the toilet but instead stole her laptop.

She discovered that item was missing after the pair left and Miss Hill noticed her bedroom had been searched.

The callous pair, who both have previous offences, both stole to fund their heroin addictions. They have now been jailed.

Rhodri Chudleigh, representing James, who admitted burglary, said his client had received a custodial sentence in 2011 for theft and managed to get clean of drugs but, after starting a relationship with Begley, he relapsed. They are no longer in a relationship.

Lee Davies, for Begley, who admitted theft, said his client knew she faced a custodial sentence and said when they returned to Miss Hill's home, she did not know her partner intended to steal again.

Judge Paul Thomas told them: "It's difficult to imagine the distress you caused this lady. She thought that you were befriending her, she thought you were there to help her.

"You were not. You were there to steal her property to fund your filthy drug habit. That causes revulsion to right-minded people."

Begley was jailed for nine months and James for 14 months.

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