A WREXHAM man stole precious valuables from his neighbour's home while he lay seriously ill in hospital, a court heard.

Daniel McDowell, of Bryn Coed in Gwersyllt, appeared at Mold Crown Court for sentence on Wednesday morning (November 29).

The 69-year-old had previously admitted one offence of theft (including by finding), which took place in June this year.

Karl Scholz, prosecuting, told the court that the victim, Stephen Jones, had been the defendant's neighbour for the last four years. 

He is described by Mr Jones' sister, Deborah Williams, as having been a "good neighbour" and was entrusted with having the keys to Mr Jones' property in order to collect the post after he went into hospital in May 2023.

McDowell also visited Mr Jones in hospital, but concerns were raised by Mrs Williams after McDowell had started asking him for money. 

In early June, Mrs Williams discovered that McDowell had been packing up Mr Jones' belongings and after Mr Jones raised concerns about this, she asked the defendant for the keys back.

Mr Jones also asked his sister to sell a number of valuable items in his home to raise money for potential home care costs for when he was discharged from hospital.

But when Mrs Williams went to the property on June 27, the items she was planning to sell for her brother were missing.

These items included gold and silver rings, a pocket watch, necklaces and other jewellery, as well as scrap gold of differing carats. In all, the items were given a value of around £2,200.

Mr Jones confronted his neighbour over the theft, and at that stage he denied all knowledge.

But a few days later, McDowell contacted the police and admitted what he'd done, confessing that he'd sold the items to a pawn shop in Wrexham.

All items except for the pocket watch had already been sold on by the time the shop was contacted, meaning several items of high monetary and sentimental value had been lost. The shop owner told the police that he had paid £580 for the items. 

In a victim personal statement, Mrs Williams said the news had impacted Mr Jones "massively".

"Danny has abused the trust of Stephen and preyed on a vulnerable person," she said.

"I cannot believe this has happened. He pulled the wool over my eyes and thinking back I can see how Danny had an agenda with Stephen."

The court heard that in police interview, McDowell said he had taken the items as he got into trouble with a loan shark - whom he had been told he owed £500.

McDowell had 59 previous convictions for a total of 196 offences - including 28 offences of theft and 129 of burglary. However, he hadn't offended since 2007. 


"While he has an appalling record for dishonesty, this all stopped many years ago," said Simon Killeen, defending. 

"And if one suggested that he has attempted to turn his life around, perhaps that has some merit.

"There has been a massive change in his lifestyle from the career criminal he had become."

Judge Simon Mills described the offence as a "dreadful thing to do".

"You stole from your friend," he said. "And you will have to carry that shame with you."

He sentenced McDowell to a 12-month prison term, suspended for one year. Judge Mills also ordered McDowell pay his victim £1,000 in compensation, and that he must complete 15 days of rehabilitation activity.