Prolific burglar Nigel Anthony Proctor, 51, broke into the detached property during the daytime while the female owner was at work and ransacked the place, pulling out drawers and cupboards and even managing to burst the piping in the toilet.
The victim returned home to find a scene of utter devastation and discovered to her horror that her father’s war medals had disappeared, along with “sentimental” necklaces and rings handed down by her late parents, York Crown Court heard.
Over £3,000 of jewellery and treasured family heirlooms had gone missing during the raid on October 9, including her parents’ wedding, maternity and engagement rings, said prosecutor
Proctor, who has been breaking into homes since the 1980s, left the property on York Road with a huge haul, including a necklace that the victim’s father had bought for his wife for their 25 the wedding anniversary.
He also stole the victim’s mobile phone – which he later threw into the River Derwent. It was the only item not to be recovered.
Proctor, who was armed with an “implement” for breaking in, could have got away with it were it not for vital DNA evidence left behind at the scene, namely blood stains – including one on a filing cabinet which ultimately nailed him to the crime.
He was not arrested until October 31 – some three weeks after the burglary. He was charged on the back of irrefutable DNA evidence.
Proctor, of The Grove, Norton, near Malton, admitted burglary and appeared for sentence via video link on Tuesday.
The court heard he had been drunk during the break-in and claimed he could barely remember the incident, not least his destructive foray into the toilet where pipes were burst, leading to flooding.
Ms Hancock said the victim, who was named in court, was horrified and “extremely panicked” when she returned home to find her home had been ravaged.
It appeared that Proctor had broken in by smashing a bedroom window.
“There was glass all over (the victim’s) bedroom, all over her clothes and all her personal items, and many of the precious ones (had been) taken,” added Ms Hancock.
The victim had to sleep on the sofa that night and her window had to be boarded up. She was left feeling “extremely vulnerable” and said it would be a “long, long time before I get over this”.
Ms Hancock said the stolen jewellery - which was later recovered - “contributed to some of (the victim’s) memories of (her late parents)”.
She said the victim felt real “anger” towards Proctor because she now no longer felt safe in her own home.
“She’s angry because she freezes in fear every time she hears a noise,” added Ms Hancock.
“She’s angry that every time she returns from work she has to check that nobody has been inside.
She is normally a confident, functioning person (but) this defendant has reduced her to a childlike, frustrated helplessness.”
Proctor told police he had sold three of the stolen rings for £170 at a pawnbroker’s in Scarborough.
He had hidden the rest of the jewellery and war medals in furniture at his home.
The court heard he had a long criminal record dating back to the 1980s when he committed the first of his many burglaries.
Defence barrister Chris Dunn said Proctor had an alcohol problem and struggled to recall the “horrible” burglary and “appalling damage” he caused at the woman’s home in Malton because he was so drunk.
He said Proctor had stolen to fund his lifelong booze habit, adding: “He has no idea why he ransacked the house and damaged a toilet, and doesn’t even recall doing it.”
Judge Sean Morris blasted Proctor for his “vandalism” and told him: “You have been before the courts again and again.
“You went through that (woman’s) cupboards and every drawer, and she was absolutely traumatised by it.”
Proctor was jailed for two years and eight months, of which he will serve half behind bars before being released on prison licence.