A thief with 21 previous convictions has been jailed for stealing donations given by churchgoers to a bereaved Penarth mother in memory of her baby son.
The thief, Joseph Scott Price (29) – of Barry – admitted theft and burglary when he appeared at Cardiff Crown Court and was jailed for 32 months.
The money – £95 in cash – had been collected by members of a local church for Ms Amy Thomas to fund a memorial following the recent loss of her baby boy.
Price had become acquainted with Ms Thomas on-line and had paid her a late night visit during which, as midnight approached , he was asked to leave after making an “upsetting comment” about the death of her son.
The court heard that a purse containing the £95 in cash had been on the sofa at Ms Thomas’s home and she spotted Price’s hand inside it . When she asked him what he was doing, he had claimed he was looking for the remote control of the tv set but – after he had gone – she discovered that the money in the purse had been stolen.
In a Victim Impact Statement made by Ms Thomas and read out in court – she said the whole incident had made her feel “physically sick“. She said “It’s the lowest of the low. It makes me angry more than anything.I feel violated. I just lost my baby and I don’t need people like this in my life”.
Ms Thomas however was not to be the only victim of Joseph Scott Price that night. As Price walked down Windsor Road he noticed a window ajar in a nearby house. The homeowner was away but his partner and three children were upstairs.
Price – the court heard – climbed into the living room and stole a Samsung tv set, games consoles, an Xbox, a wallet and a leather jacket – and then stashed these stolen goods outside – planning to return later in a taxi to collect them.
In mitigation Price’s lawyer said the defendant had to “sought to grieve” with Ms Thomas but had taken anti-depressants and consumed alcohol. The burglary, he said, had been “opportunistic” and that “the degree of intrusion” had been “restricted to the living room”. Price – he said – was “not without genuine remorse “.
Crown Court Recorder Catherine Brown described the theft of the money from Ms Thomas as “a despicable thing to do” and told him via a video link that “Society does not like people who behave in that way.”
Price is to serve 32 months imprisonment for both offences and must pay victim surcharge of £170.