08:00 Saturday 28 December 2013

Jewel thief handed Xmas reprieve by judge

Written byPETER RICHARDSON

10/12/13 Valerie Peeler who had stuff stolen by a neighbour - Stanton Road, BurtonValerie Peeler 10/12/13 Valerie Peeler who had stuff stolen by a neighbour - Stanton Road, BurtonValerie Peeler

A BURTON woman who stole a widow’s jewels while pretending to be a good neighbour was let out of jail for Christmas by a judge.

Patricia Brown, who befriended 66-year-old Valerie Peeler before stealing jewellery worth a total of about £1,000, launched an appeal after being sent to prison for 12 weeks.

Brown, of Cameron Close, Stapenhill, who admitted a charge of theft at Burton Magistrates’ Court previously, was granted bail – allowing her to spend the festive season at home – as the Christmas and new year holidays prevented the hearing of her appeal.

Timothy Sapwell, opposing Brown’s application for bail pending an appeal against sentence, said Brown had sold some of the stolen goods to a jeweller, while others had been recovered.

She took the items after being given a key to the victim’s home in Stapenhill.

It included items of sentimental value, particularly gifts from Mrs Peeler’s late husband.

Steve Hennessey, defending, , applied for bail pending the appeal.

He told the court that in ordinary circumstances her appeal would be held at short notice, but the Christmas and new year break had prevented it.

“She now faced the prospect of spending three or four weeks in jail before the case could be heard.

“It is an unpleasant offence with several aggravating features. She is in a fragile mental state - she attempted suicide whilst on police bail.”

Judge Mark Eades gave Brown bail until the appeal, but warned “this is absolutely no indication at all of the merits of the appeal.”

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