Elderly Bolton woman hands burglar £20 after being ‘touched’ by apology letter

An elderly woman who gifted a career criminal a cash handout after he burgled her Bolton home said she was ‘touched’ by the convict’s letter of apology from prison.

Forgiving Loretta Smith, 75, felt so sorry for 24-year-old Kevin Derbyshire after he gave her a sob story from jail, she wrote back accepting his apology and enclosing a £20 postal order.

During the raid on Mrs Smith’s home in Bolton, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire and an accomplice grabbed £10,000 worth of gems including several rings and watches, but were caught after CCTV of the raid was posted on Facebook.

Most of the items were returned but a diamond ring and bracelet have not been recovered and Mrs Smith was left with a £500 repair bill to a broken window.

While awaiting sentencing Derbyshire wrote to Mrs Smith and promised to buy her a bunch of flowers on his release.

Details of the apology emerged at Bolton Crown Court where Derbyshire’s lawyer used it to help with his plea for mitigation.

Mrs Smith, who is company secretary of a taxi firm, said: ”He just said he was very, very sorry. His writing was appalling, really bad spelling.

“He said he was really sorry for what had happened and had been under the influence of valium.

“He said it was only when he read it on Facebook that he realised what a horrible thing he had done and what people thought of him. I think that’s why he wrote.

“I felt sorry for him. He obviously wasn’t very bright. I thought ‘well there you go you’ve done it’.

“What touched me was the fact that he had been on Facebook and read all the comments and it had really upset him what people thought of him and that he had done something really horrible.”

Mrs Smith said she wrote a reply, thanking Derbyshire for his letter and telling him she hoped he understood the trauma he’d caused her.

Derbyshire’s accomplice Graham Llewellyn, also 24, has also written to Mrs Smith – but has had no response. Both were jailed for 32 months each after admitting burglary.

“I said I had a damaged window and spoke of the trouble he had caused me,” she said. “I said I was that sure he had family who he had caused trouble to, who would now be at a financial and emotional loss.

”I made it very short and sweet thanking him for the letter and said I was sure that he had not only upset me but he must have upset his partner or wife both financially and emotionally.

“I thought at first I’d send him some stamps so he could send letters to loved ones – but I sent him £20. The lady at the prison said £20 was a lot of money but he will still need toiletries or whatever.”

Mrs Smith revealed Derbyshire had written to her a second time – but she has yet to respond.

“When he wrote back he never mentioned the money but it may not have got to him at that point,” she said.

“He did say when he comes out of prison he is going to buy me a bunch of flowers and the best bottle of wine he can afford.

“The other guy has also sent me a letter but I haven’t replied – he said that his wife had got a little boy and she had a daughter due, and he was drunk.”

The raid occurred last August while Mrs Smith was at work after Derbyshire and Llewellyn spotted an open skylight window and climbed into the property. 

Attempts were made to destroy a CCTV hard drive which had installed following a previous break in – but within 24 hours of the crime images from the camera clearly identifying Derbyshire and Llewellyn, both aged 24, were posted onto Facebook.

After seeing the pictures, Llewellyn bundled the stolen property into a black bin bag and left it outside Mrs Smith’s home.

“They took a lot of serious stuff – There were several designer watches and an expensive one I got from the Caribbean with diamonds,” Mrs Smith said.

“My ruby ring and diamond ring went and a diamond solitaire and my diamond eternity ring. It was absolutely terrible.

‘”To know someone had been in my home and damage it and gone through the skylight was horrible. It was a violation knowing he was in my home. What I have got in my home I have worked for that I don’t want people to come in and steal.

“They tried to destroy the CCTV by putting it in the sink and covering it with water but we were able to retrieve the information and it went on Facebook.

“There were a lot of comments in a matter of two hours and I believe from what the police tell me, one gave himself up or the police went to his house and arrested him, and the other disappeared.”

Today, defending her goodwill gesture, Mrs Smith said it was ‘no big deal’ to send Derbyshire the cash handout, and admitted that she simply be ‘gullible’.

“I know he has done wrong but what he did would have had a knock on effect for his family,” she said.

“The police tell me these two men are prolific burglars and shoplifters and I’m told people like them send letters to victims because they are instructed by their solicitors to do so.

“But it was no big deal for me to send him money –  it would be normal for me to do something like that and It was just something that I wanted to do.

“I’m sorry if people think I’m stupid but I don’t think it was silly. I thought his letter came from the heart but maybe I’m just gullible.

I’m hoping it will bring him to his senses and make him realise he has to go out and work. That is the only way to succeed.

“I know it might not make sense but it did to me at the time. If people think I’m silly then hey ho.”

In court Derbyshire’s lawyer Nicholas Ross said his client was ‘remorseful’ and said of Mrs Smith’s gift ‘was out of remarkable sympathy, and I might say, in an almost saintly way, a token of her generosity’.

Kate Harney, mitigating for Llewellyn, said his client was ‘almost institutionalised’ and had previously committed offences in order to go to jail where he felt more at home.

But she added he was hoping to turn his life around after finding a partner and becoming a father.

Story via Cavendish Press.

Image courtesy of Sean Hobson, with thanks.

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