A TERRIFIED 80-year-old woman was woken up in the early hours to find a masked man dressed in dark clothing at the foot of her bed.
Intruder William Selvey told her to lie down and asked her where her money was.
But the pensioner was able to pull an emergency cord and the warden of the sheltered accommodation at Manley Court, Shotton, rang her up.
She grabbed the phone and explained there was a man in the house, whereupon Selvey, 38, made himself scarce.
Mold Crown Court was told yesterday that the victim felt that call had saved her. but in fact she had lost her confidence and was no longer relaxed in her own home.
Selvey, who then lived close to his victim in Shotton but who has an address in Conway Close, Flint, was jailed for four years after he admitted burglary in April last year.
The court heard how he had previous convictions for 127 offences, including more than 20 burglaries.
The judge, the Recorder Phillip Davies, said Selvey had “a dreadful record”.
He told him: “It was a terrifying ordeal for the victim, who was 80 and living in sheltered accommodation at a time of her life and in a place where she should feel perfectly safe, content and looked after. You destroyed that contentment.”
It had been a “terrible situation” that faced the woman when she was woken at 4.55am to be confronted by him, dressed in dark clothing with his face covered. The impact had been substantial, the judge said.
“She believes that but for that telephone call even worse things may have occurred,” he told the court.
Prosecuting barrister Caroline Harris said the victim was shocked by what occurred.
Selvey was aggressive and the pensioner was extremely frightened, she said.
Jewellery boxes with items of great sentimental value given to her by her late husband had been piled up ready to take.
But Selvey fled with a purse, again of sentimental value, which had been given to her by her son and had the word ‘mum’ on it. It contained some £1 coins.
Selvey was arrested and his footwear forensically linked to marks left at the scene.
Selvey initially claimed he had no recollection of the burglary but said he would accept responsibility. He later pleaded not guilty but then changed his mind.
In a victim impact statement, the OAP told how the burglary had been life-changing.
Initially she could not live at home and stayed with a friend and then with her son, where she felt safe.
But when she closed her eyes she could see the man at the foot of her bed, she explained.
After a while she moved back home but found it difficult and instead of going to bed at 9pm would find herself up until it was daylight.
“I have lost so much confidence. The most terrifying thing is hearing him telling me to lie down and asking me for the money,” she explained.
She told how she originally applied to move from the ground-floor flat but then changed her mind because she did not want to feel that the burglar had beaten her.
The victim said she was able to cope much better during the day when she would socialise, but it was difficult at night and she would put items behind the door to prevent anyone getting in. “At 80 I am really struggling to come to terms with it all,” she said.
Andrew Green, defending, said mercifully the physical confrontation was brief and Selvey immediately left when the phone rang.
He had not targeted the home of an elderly person and he had not realised it was sheltered accommodation for the elderly, said Mr Green.
Selvey’s previous convictions could not be ignored but he had come to a time in his life where he was too old for the cycle of offending and imprisonment.
He had a girlfriend and a daughter and had missed the birth of his second child because he was on remand.
Selvey had been able to give up drugs, worked in prison as a welder and had been given a trusted job in the kitchens.
Mr Green said: “He is now drugs free for the first time in 20 years and is motivated to change. He wants to get a job on his release so he can support his family.”
While in custody he had followed various courses. The one which affected him most was a victim awareness course, after which he had drafted a letter of apology to the victim and had paid from his small prison earnings into a pot of money that went to victims of crime.
His remorse was genuine and in a letter to the court Selvey had told how he wanted the victim to have some peace.
He now realised an elderly lady lived there alone and was very sorry for the distress he had caused her.