Jail for burglar whose victim died

William Hartley
William Hartley

A BURGLAR who broke in to the home of a pensioner who later died of a heart attack has been jailed.

William Hartley climbed through the window of a flat in Wheatfield Court, Lancaster, on February 15 when Barbara Haynes was sleeping.

He was forced to flee empty handed after Mrs Haynes pulled the emergency cord on her alarm. However, she then suffered a heart attack and passed away eight weeks later.

Hartley, 24, of Sun Street, Lancaster, left fingerprints at the scene and was later arrested. He pleaded guilty to burglary with intent to steal earlier this year and was given a 16-month jail sentence at Preston Vrown Court on Friday.

DC Corinne Cleasby, Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Having a stranger break-in to her home while she slept would have been a very frightening experience for Mrs Haynes, but she was brave enough to pull the cord and call for help.

“Sadly, in the moments after the break in she suffered a heart attack, from which she never fully recovered. Her relatives understandably feel angry that a loved family member had to go through this ordeal in the final weeks of her life. The sentence given today cannot compensate for their loss but hopefully they will feel that justice has been done.”

In a family statement, Mrs Haynes’ daughter Marjorie said: “My mother came to live in Lancaster 15 years ago and made many friends through her work as a chiropodist, at St Thomas Church and as a member of the chaplaincy team at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary.

“Mum was a very gentle, caring person but, at the same time, she had a strong independent spirit and was determined to remain in her own home despite increasingly poor health. Mum was at the very centre of our family; we all miss her very much and are sad that the break-in caused her so much fear and anxiety.

“We hope that the court case will highlight the need to protect and cherish elderly and vulnerable members of our society.”