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‘Sickening’ burglar who wore stolen pendant containing ashes of victim’s wife jailed

A despicable thief who tricked her way into an elderly man’s home and stole a pendant containing his wife’s ashes was wearing it when she was arrested.

Gillian Murray went to the flat of the 85-year-old and lied about needing to look around as she hunted valuables to fund a drug fix.

While his family were agonisingly staying away from the vulnerable pensioner due to Covid, drug addict Murray spent an hour with him and even kissed him on the cheek before leaving.

Despite his kindness in giving her a drink and making her welcome, she didn’t think twice about stealing items of huge sentimental value, reports Chronicle Live.

As well as the pendant, she took jewellery belonging to his late wife and a ring the victim got for his 18th birthday.

Murray lied to the pensioner to gain entry into his flat
Murray lied to the pensioner to gain entry into his flat

The victim has been left feeling unsafe in his home of 30 years and his daughter said the offence was “sickening”.

Now Murray, 41, of Claremont North Avenue, Gateshead , has been jailed for 18 months at Newcastle Crown Court after admitting burglary.

In a victim impact statement on behalf of her dad, his daughter said: “I was appalled someone could trick their way into his home.

“He is a vulnerable man who lives by himself. He did feel safe and happy but as a result of the actions of this female he is worried about his safety and no longer wants to live in his flat.

“To discover she sat with him for more than an hour is sickening. When I’m limiting my visits, because of the virus, to dropping shopping off once a week, someone sat with him for more than an hour to trick him.”

Murray said she wanted to look around to see if the flat, in high rise Redheugh Court, Gateshead, was the same as hers on the 19th floor
Murray said she wanted to look around to see if the flat, in high rise Redheugh Court, Gateshead, was the same as hers on the 19th floor

The court heard it was on the morning of December 7 last year that the victim, who has lived alone for three years since his wife died, was visited by Murray.

She said she wanted to look around to see if the flat, in high rise Redheugh Court, Gateshead, was the same as hers on the 19th floor. As she had a key fob, he believed her and let her in.

The kind victim left her alone to make her a drink and then they talked before she left, kissing him goodbye.

It was only after she’d gone he realised, to his horror, what she had done.

Barry Robson, prosecuting, said: “A full bottle of whiskey had been stolen. More importantly she had also taken two watches, three rings and a silver pendant from the coffee table.

“The pendant was particularly important to him as the vial attached to it contained the ashes of his wife.

Murray seen trying doors in the corridor
Murray seen trying doors in the corridor

“This so alarmed and disgusted him, he rang his daughter at midnight when he realised. She described him as distressed during the phone call.”

The next day, after police had been informed, CCTV was checked and the concierge recognised Murray as she was a frequent visitor to the block.

Footage showed her trying various doors before heading towards the victim’s flat.

While the concierge was going through the CCTV, Murray was spotted on live footage at another block and was arrested.

Mr Robson said: “She was taken to the police station and a PC remembered a pendant worn by the defendant upon her arrest.

Footage showed her trying various doors before heading towards the victim's flat
Footage showed her trying various doors before heading towards the victim’s flat

“It was recovered from her property at the police station and identified as the pendant from the victim’s home.”

At Murray’s home, a watch stolen in the burglary was found and it was found she had sold three rings she had taken in the break-in at a pawnbrokers, for £450.

Murray has two previous convictions for burglary from 2011 when she was jailed for two years.

Jailing her for the latest offence and imposing an indefinite restraining order banning him from going to the floor the victim lives on or contacting him, Recorder Kama Melly QC said: “His kindness to you in making you a drink and you realising his level of vulnerability did not put you off for a moment from what you had gone there to do.

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“He later discovered you had stolen from him items including a pendant from a coffee table containing his deceased wife’s ashes and a watch he’d had for almost 70 years.

“It’s correct and to your credit that the jewellery was later returned, however the impact on the complainant was huge.”

Shada Mellor, defending, said Murray had tried multiple doors and had not specifically targeted the 85-year-old.

Miss Mellor added: “She is very remorseful for her actions, especially now she is aware the item was of sentimental value. She did not know this at the time.

“She was wearing the necklace when arrested containing (the victim’s) wife’s ashes.”

Miss Mellor added that Murray is a mum who has struggled with addiction to crack cocaine and heroin and was in withdrawal at the time as her methadone prescription had been stopped and “was in need of a fix”.

She said Murray had been drinking whiskey with the victim before stealing the bottle.



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