POLICE chiefs are warning so-called ‘mate crime’ will not be tolerated in Warwickshire.
The message comes after a callous woman targeted elderly and vulnerable men by ‘befriending’ them before burgling their homes and stealing from them.
Calculating Patricia McGoldrick pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to two charges of burglary, one of theft and one of attempted theft.
The 38-year-old of no fixed address, who had a number of similar previous convictions, was jailed for four-and-a-half years.
Prosecutor Patrick Sullivan said: “The offences all have a common theme, that she befriends elderly men and, having gained their trust, she steals from them.”
McGoldrick had previously befriended an 86-year-old man by approaching him in Leamington town centre and asking him to look after her bag, which he did for two hours before handing it to the police when she did not return for it.
But she found where he lived, and over an 18-month period she inveigled herself into his life and ‘made a real nuisance of herself’ by turning up at his home.
During her repeated visits she stole a watch which had been a gift from his son, his late wife’s wedding and engagement rings and other items.
McGoldrick also approached an 82-year-old man she had befriended in the street and asked him for money – and when he refused, she took his wallet and took £15 from it.
And she targeted a 68-year-old man at his home from where she stole money.
Mr Sullivan added McGoldrick was a ‘third strike’ burglar, and her previous offences, which had also included a number of thefts and a robbery, had followed the same pattern of befriending vulnerable men before stealing from them – in what he said was known as ‘mate crime.’
McGoldrick’s barrister Rashad Mohammed told the court her life had been blighted by her misuse of drugs, and she committed offences to fund that addiction.
He said she had three children who had all been taken into care, but she had recently become reunited with the oldest, now aged 21.
And Mr Mohammed added: “She has asked me to apologise to the victims on her behalf. She is ashamed of her behaviour.”
Jailing McGoldrick, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told her: “For the last almost 20 years you have been taking things from people in very similar circumstances. Sometimes it’s theft, sometimes it’s burglary, and on one occasion it was robbery.
“But what the offences have in common is that you prey on elderly vulnerable gentlemen.”
Det Con Tim O’Mahoney from Warwickshire Police welcomed the sentence.
He added: “This sort of crime is often referred to as ‘mate crime’, when someone pretends to be a person’s friend and then takes advantage of them instead of being a proper friend.
“We will not tolerate mate crime in our community and hope this sentence sends a message to offenders that we will take robust action against those found to be committing crimes of this nature.