A DESPICABLE burglar has been jailed for more than three years after stealing cash off the bed of a dying man in his Wrexham home.

Gareth Bird, 40, of Glaslyn, Plas Madoc, Acrefair, went into the home of his 68-year-old victim, who has brain cancer, on December 20 last year.

Bird didn’t say a word to his victim, who was helpless as he counted out £25.50 in cash in front of him and left.

The victim did manage to shout, which alerted a neighbour, who after realising what was going on, saw Bird getting on a bus. The neighbour drove to the next bus stop, went onboard and challenged Bird, who refused to get off.

However, police stopped the bus just minutes later and Bird was arrested.

Prosecuting barrister Karl Scholz, the Mold Crown Court how the victim had terminal cancer of the brain and how that condition had a serious impact on his mobility. He said his bed was in the downstairs living room and how he spent most of his time in a chair and would leave the door unlocked so that medical professionals could enter.

It had been just before 10am when the victim heard a knock on the door and after telling the person to come in, was greeted by the presence of a stranger. When asked who he was, Bird introduced himself as “Gareth” but gave no further information.

Bird noticed the money on the bed, which the victim had left out for his daughter, counted it and walked out.

Daniel Large heard the shouts of his neighbour and followed Bird, who had earlier asked Mr Large for money to cover his bus fare, but he had told him to go away. Mr Large got on the bus and told the driver and the passengers on board how Bird had “robbed a pensioner” but he refused to get off. Not wanting to make too much of a scene, Mr Large got off, but the police, who had already been alerted to the incident made an arrest. In reviewing CCTV footage from the bus, Bird could be seen hiding a £20 note in his sock.

Mr Scholz told the court that Bird had an appalling criminal record, with 51 court appearances with 133 previous convictions including five previous house burglaries - one of them an aggravated burglary, a robbery and 28 for theft.

In a victim impact statement , the pensioner told how he was left “in total shock” that some could quite brazenly enter his home, stand at his bed without saying anything, count his money and walk off with it. He had been in the practice of leaving the window open to get air but had been advised by police not to do so.

Defending barrister Andrew Green said while the victim was sadly very poorly and vulnerable, the defendant had not known that from the outside. But he could not escape the fact that when he went in he must have realised the victim was vulnerable with his bed downstairs.

He said the defendant’s life had been blighted by drugs and he had spent significant periods in custody and upon his release living very much “a hand to mouth” existence.

Bird, appearing via link from HMP Berwyn, told Judge Rhys Rowlands that he was sorry for what he had done and knew that he was going to prison. He went on to say that he didn’t know the man was in the condition he was in.

He said: “I knocked on the door and he said come in. How am I supposed to know? I had only lived there two or three days. I did not know anyone there.”

Sentencing him to serve three years and nine months in custody, the judge told him that although he may not have realised how vulnerable his victim was before he entered his home, once he saw him, he must have been immediately aware.

He told him: “To say your behaviour was mean is a gross under-statement.

“Your behaviour was quite despicable and would cause right thinking people to ask themselves how you could possibly sink so low.”

All house burglaries were serious, he said, but in the present case the victim was extremely un-well, was extremely vulnerable and that would have been obvious to Bird when he went in.

The victim had been left “in total shock” that someone could take advantage of him that way and now he felt “trapped in his own home.”

A three year restraining order was made not to approach the victim, who had told police that he was “on borrowed time.”