A TEENAGE burglar carried out the “particularly mean” offence of targeting a woman he knew to have health and hearing difficulties, a court was told.

Adam Lowes was said to have carried out some gardening work at the home of his victim, a woman in her 60s who lives alone in the Spennymoor area, only a week before the offence.

Durham Crown Court was told the woman, who has impaired hearing and is in general poor health, came downstairs to put her dog outside on the morning of January 24, this year.

Chris Morrison, prosecuting, said she did not need to unlock the patio door as it was open.

She then realised two money boxes, which were nearly full, were missing and she realised someone had broken in during the night, “pilfering” about £200.

As no-one else had the key for the patio she knew it must be someone familiar with the house and garden.

Mr Morrison said the woman spoke to a neighbour who had seen Lowes in the vicinity and knew he was familiar with the house as an occasional caller offering to cut the grass and perform other gardening tasks.

He was arrested and interviewed, making full admissions to police.

A statement read to the court said the victim now feels “unsettled” in her own home, and finds herself constantly checking the doors, while she is worried when she takes her dog for a walk.

She was also upset that someone she trusted had taken advantage of her vulnerability, knowing she had impaired hearing.

Lowes, 19, of Tudhoe Moor, Spennymoor, admitted a single count of burglary, but the court heard he also had a recent caution for burglary, sneaking into a house where he cleaned windows to take a purse from a kitchen table.

Michele Turner, mitigating, said it had to be considered “distasteful, in every way”, putting the previously unconvicted defendant in peril of a first custodial sentence, at a time he is needed to offer support to his family.

“There was no sophisticated planning, but it was clearly deliberately targeted, seeing an opportunity and taking it.”

Imposing a 22-month prison sentence, Judge James Adkin told Lowes: “You don’t seem to present as much of a risk to the public as some defendants coming before the court, but the elderly and vulnerable deserve the support of the courts, as the effect on them of such offences is dramatically worse.”