A WIDOW woke to discover her memorial garden to her late beloved husband had been destroyed overnight by thieves, a court heard.

Although not said to be of high intrinsic value, the ornaments taken overnight from the garden, in early May, were said to be of great sentimental value.

Durham Crown Court heard the widow, who lives alone, retired to bed as normal on May 8 and, on rising the following morning, saw the ornaments and lighting laid out in memory of her husband in the garden were either missing or damaged.

Shaun Dryden, prosecuting, told court: “Her husband died nine years ago, and this was her memorial to him.

“The thefts had a great effect on her.

“Seeing the gardens ransacked, she felt completely devastated, running to her next-door neighbour crying and screaming in disbelief.

“She had to ask her neighbour to ring the police.

“She felt as if her husband’s grave had been robbed.

“She repaired what she could and some of the ornaments were recovered and returned to her.

“But she said since then she now wakes with fear each morning, in case she opens her curtains to find there has been a repeat.

“On the face of it, it’s a straightforward theft, but clearly this has been very distressing for the complainant in this case.”

Mr Dryden said the recovered items were found at the home of defendant Daniel Robinson, in Gilesgate, Durham, when he was arrested.

The retrieved haul included items also taken from a garden shed in Horden, also between May 6 and 9, while the defendant was also said to have been responsible for the theft of eight two-litre bottles of milk, taken from outside a shop in Murton.

Robinson, 34, of Edward Street, admitted two counts of theft and one of handling stolen goods, in relation to the stolen goods.

The court heard it put him at risk of activating a suspended sentence, imposed at Durham Crown Court last October, for burglaries at the homes of his mother and sister in Easington, in which a large amount of jewellery and electrical items were taken, in February last year.

Lewis Kerr, for Robinson, said he suffered a recent serious attack and asked for his sentence to be adjourned until the alleged assailant appears at court, next week.

Judge Jonathan Carroll, who warned Robinson that he is facing having the custodial sentence activated, agreed and adjourned the sentencing hearing until November 5.