AN “institutionalised” burglar broke into the home of a pensioner with dementia during a five-month long rural crime spree, a court heard.

Felix Purcell smashed a window to gain entry and then ransacked the 90-year-old's property in High Street, Brymbo while the householder was at the pub.

The heartless break-in was one of several committed by Purcell, formerly of Wrexham, in remote locations around Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire between June and October last year.

He was jailed for four-and-a-half years at Mold Crown Court where Judge Niclas Parry told him and his two accomplices, his son Isaac Purcell and James Doran: “You had decided that North Wales would be a nice easy target to steal goods from remote premises.”

Prosecuting barrister Anna Price said Purcell was linked with the theft of a Ford Focus from a property by DNA found on a screwdriver left in the footwell of the vehicle last July.

Around the same time a woman reported her son’s Vauxhall Astra stolen and it was later found parked up in Hawarden with its wheels damaged and exhaust hanging off.

At Upper Lodge in Cymau, Purcell was surprised by the householder who chased him and an accomplice in his car. But he was later picked out at an identity parade.

His crime wave carried on unabated when he broke into a property in Brymbo Road in Bwlchgwyn where he ransacked every room before taking two coats and the keys to an Audi parked in the driveway. The vehicle, though, had a flat tyre and battery and was left intact.

At the pensioner's Brymbo home Purcell and another man threw items around the front room. But they were spotted by a neighbour who later identified Purcell from a Facebook posting.

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James Doran

Purcell was picked out at another identity parade over an attempted burglary at a terraced property in Rhewl where he was seen by a neighbour loitering in the back yard.

After he was arrested in Wrexham town centre he gave “no comment” interviews to police, although he did admit handling cars.

Doran admitted an attempted burglary at an unoccupied property in Berse Road in Caego in June last year where he was disturbed by a neighbour who heard the sound of breaking glass and a door being kicked in.

A blood stain on a shard of glass established a DNA link to Doran, who was also involved with the two Purcells in a raid on a remote farm at World’s End in Eglwyseg.

The farmer found his car had been entered and the front door of his cottage kicked through.

A trailer worth £1,200 was missing with CCTV footage showing Doran hitching the agricultural equipment to a Fiesta car and driving off.

The court was told the farmer could not claim back the value of the trailer through his insurance policy.

Purcell, 49, of no fixed abode, admitted nine offences in North Wales and Chester; four attempted burglaries, including one at a property in Hoole, Chester, two counts of burglary, the theft of the trailer, two counts of aggravated vehicle taking. He also admitted two attempted burglaries and a theft in the West Midlands.

Doran, 27, formerly of Oil Street in Liverpool, admitted two counts of attempted burglary and the theft of the trailer.

Isaac Purcell, 23, of Exeter Place, Chester denied an attempted burglary and theft of the trailer, but he was convicted after a trial.

Defence barrister Mark Connor told the court how Felix Purcell was “institutionalised” and “feels lost when he is out (of prison)”.

He is already serving a 14-month sentence imposed for dangerous driving.

“He feels like he has wasted his life. He has a grandson who is six-months-old and he does want to play a part in his life,” said the barrister.

Doran is also serving a previous prison term for causing serious injury by dangerous driving and his nine-month sentence for his latest offending must be served consecutively to it.

Judge Parry suspended Isaac Purcell’s one-year sentence for 18 months and told him to complete 200 hours of unpaid work, 20 rehabilitation days and pay part compensation for the stolen trailer in the sum of £500.

His barrister Andrew Green said: “He is now in a stable relationship and has taken responsibility for his seven-year-old son by finding stable employment. He has turned his life around.”