Drug user broke into Wisbech murder victim home and stole a television and music centre, court told
PUBLISHED: 08:35 09 April 2013 | UPDATED: 08:35 09 April 2013
A DRUG user broke into the home of murdered widow Una Crown and stole a television and other valuables.
Factory worker Dainius Stelmokas, 29, of De Havilland Road, Wisbech, was remanded in custody by King’s Lynn magistrates yesterday after he admitted burgling the property where 86-year-old Mrs Crown was stabbed to death and set on fire.
“This burglary occurred on the night of April 4,” said Josephine Jones, prosecuting. “The property in question is a detached bungalow, situated on Magazine Lane in Wisbech.
“It has received a great deal of coverage because it was the home of Una Crown, until she was murdered in the property on January 12.”
Mrs Jones said officers involved in the murder investigation attended the property on Friday, after a neighbour reported that a vinyl sheet securing the rear door had been torn down.
She said they found a flat-screen television, a music centre and portable TV were missing from the house. After carrying out a thorough forensic examination of the bungalow, detectives were quickly able to highlight any new finger prints.
Mrs Jones said prints left at the scene led to Stelmokas, who at first claimed he had been at home at the time of the break-in.
“Eventually, he did admit being involved in the burglary,” she went on.
“He said he had been walking around Wisbech between midnight and 1am looking for somewhere to burgle.”
Mrs Jones said when he saw the police tape around Mrs Crown’s bungalow, he assumed it had been burgled and nobody would realise if he burgled it again.
She said Stelmokas sold the wide screen TV to a secondhand shop in Wisbech, from where it was subsequently recovered. He was “a heavy drug user”, with drug-related debts of £700, Mrs Jones told the court.
Summing up, she added: “This is a very difficult case because it’s so unusual, the bungalow was unoccupied because the occupant had been murdered.
“Public feelings are very high in the Wisbech area. The murder was shocking, the woman, who was in her 80s, was stabbed and set alight.
“There is a very strong sense of feeling within the Wisbech community of what has happened to one of their own. The fact that this property has been burgled is only going to make that worse.”
Mrs Jones suggested added the bench might consider that the high level of public opinion meant the case should be sent to the crown court for sentencing.
In mitigation Claire Thorneley, for Stelmokas, said he had no previous convictions in this country. She said he had made a full admission to police, told them what he had stolen and where it could be found.
“It was a very unsophisticated operation,” she said. “Prints were found at two points of entry. This is a person with no previous convictions who’s clearly not a professional burglar.”
Miss Thorneley said Stelmokas had not realised the property had been a murder scene.
Magistrates remanded him in custody to be sentenced at Cambridge Crown Court, at a date to be fixed.