A JUDGE told a thief that stealing items of small value can still prove highly upsetting for the victims.

Judge Jonathan Carroll was addressing Daniel Robinson as he imposed a suspended sentence for a small flurry of crime committed in early May, last year.

The 35-year-old defendant admitted the theft of ornaments taken from a memorial a widow created to her late beloved husband in the garden of her home in Horden.

Durham Crown Court heard she awoke one morning to find the shrine destroyed, with items either damaged or destroyed.

Although not said to be of high value, the theft caused the woman great distress.

The court was told she has done her best to put the memorial back in place, but now opens her curtains with trepidation each morning.

During his spree, Robinson also took eight two-litre bottles of milk from outside a village store in Murton, early one morning, which for some time led to suspicion being cast on the delivery driver.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said the crate in which they were delivered and some of the items from the memorial were recovered by police from Robinson’s home, at the time, in New Brancepeth.

Several children’s toys and garden equipment stolen from a shed in Horden at about the same time were also recovered by police.

Robinson, now said to be living at the Changing Lives hostel at Plawsworth, near Chester-le-Street, admitted two counts of theft and one of handling stolen goods.

It put him in breach of a suspended sentence, imposed at the court, last October, for burglaries at the homes of his mother and sister in Easington, in February last year.

Lewis Kerr, for Robinson, told the court he suffered a serious attack in the intervening period and had to give evidence against the culprit, who was convicted of attempted murder at Newcastle Crown Court and jailed for ten years, last December.

Due to the trauma surrounding that case, Robinson’s sentence was deferred.

Fourteen months after the original thefts, he was given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, with 15 rehabilitation activity days and 200 hours’ unpaid work.

Judge Carroll told Robinson: “The emotional impact of relatively low-level offending can’t be under stated and the effects can still be felt long afterwards.”