A FLINTSHIRE teen has been sentenced after admitting stealing cash and jewellery from people he knew in order to fund a drug habit.

“The particulary mean acts” were carried out by Benjamin Edward Williams, 19, of Foxes Close, Mancot, who admitted carrying out five burglaries over a three month month period this year, including going back to steal more, even after he had been arrested.

Mold Crown Court heard how Williams had started smoking cannabis at the age of 13 before moving on to cocaine, and carried out all five burglaries to service a drug debt, and had sold many sentimental items at local pawn shops, for hundreds of pounds, despite their value being much more significant to their owners.

Anna Price, prosecuting, said the first two charges related to 63-year-old Christopher Groundridge, who lived next door to defendant's father on Foxes Close.

The pair were described as being very close friends, so much so, Mr Groundridge had saved £2000 to take them both on holiday, an amount of money he kept in a wallet at his home.

However, on July 15 this year, Mr Groundridge noticed the money was no longer in the wallet and spent the next five days unsuccessfully searching for it.

On July 20, Williams’ father went to see his neighbour after finding two blank cheques with his name on, hidden in his son's bedroom.

As well as the blank cheques, a “devastated” Mr Williams also found a wrist watch, which Mr Groundridge confirmed had been given to him as a present on his 18th birthday.

Rather than immediately calling the police, the pair called Williams and gave him the opportunity to admit to his guilt and return the cash, but because he didn’t, the thefts were reported and he was arrested and came clean to officers on August 15.

He told police he had gained access to Mr Groundridge’s home via an open door and had taken the money to pay off drug debts.

However, less than two weeks later, he returned to the home to take an undisclosed amount of change being kept in a jar and the spare key to Mr Groundridge’s Ford Focus. After the second burglary, Mr Groundridge also noticed a collection of sports medals belonging to his late grandfather that dated back to the 1920’s were also missing.

Williams admitting selling the medals “to a friend” for around £400 with Mr Groundridge describing how the thefts had caused upset to his family and put a strain on the relationship with his friend next door, and that they hadn’t been able to go on holiday.

He also told the court in a victim impact statement how he had been reduced to sleeping with his bed against the door, in case Williams returned as well as installing CCTV and changing the locks.

As a result of the thefts, Williams was kicked out of his father’s home and when he had nowhere else to go, had been put up by a friend in Hawarden, whose mother, a freelance nurse, spent half of her time living in Turkey. When the boy’s mother returned home from her latest trip away, she discovered 36 items of jewellery - including her own engagement and wedding rings - with a value of approximately £15,000, missing from her bedroom.

The jewellery taken included items belonging to the woman’s grandparents, which had significant sentimental value to her and was a collection she had taken many years to build up.

It soon came to light that Williams had also stolen £40 in cash from one of her son’s bedrooms and how a neighbour had told police that a man matching William’s description had been seen entering the house, where he stayed for around an hour before leaving.

Despite reporting the thefts to police on October 7, Williams returned to the home at around 1pm the following day, where he stole a 50 Turkish Lira bank note, before he was arrested the next day.

Williams admitted stealing the jewellery, which he had sold at a pawn shop in Shotton for between £500-£800; money he later used to buy drugs.

Defence barrister Sion ap Mihangel said his client came from a decent family and his problems with drugs were sadly indicative of life living in 21st century North Wales. He added the burglaries were “mean and nasty” but said the defendant had since acknowledged this and expressed remorse having been given an insight into the impact his offending had on his victims.

Mr ap Mihangel went on to say how Williams had once harboured ambitions of becoming an Army cadet, but that his story of a vulnerable young man taking on a significant drugs debt and coming under pressure to pay it back, was “a typical tale”.

He said he had acted impulsively when thinking he could steal from people he knew to clear the debt and move on and that he was “not a bad person per se”.

His Honour Judge Rowlands said Williams’ drug use was “depressing” but that it shouldn’t be used an excuse for crimes he said had left a “deeply unsettling affect” on his victims.

He said the burglaries were “particularly mean acts” with the latter of those committed after he had been put up by a friend as a result of having nowhere else to go.

He said:“You had been leading a very dissolute life.”

Judge Rowlands told Williams he will serve 14 months for the two counts of burglary from his neighbour and 18 months for the three against his friends mother, with those sentences to run consecutively, meaning a total of 32 months in a young offenders institution.