'˜Despicable' woman stole and pawned off Leeds pensioners' jewellery

A WOMAN who befriended pensioners at a Leeds sheltered housing complex before stealing and pawning their jewellery has been jailed for two years.

Wellington Gardens sheltered housing complex, Bramley. 27th March 2016. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe

Grandmother Tracey Orbell, 52, stole rings from three women in their eighties at Wellington Gardens sheltered housing complex, Bramley, in late 2014 and early 2015, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Orbell stole two rings from 80-year-old Joan Marshall, including the engagement ring her late husband gave her when she was aged 18. Orbell pawned the rings and three were recovered following her arrest.

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Prosecutor David Godfrey said Orbell took four rings from 85-year-old Wellington Gardens resident Joyce Hardisty. Orbell had also pawned those rings and three were recovered.

Orbell, of Broad Lane, Bramley, also stole a £1,000 ring and a £120 Christmas shopping voucher from 82-year-old Joyce Smith, who had recently been widowed.

The ring and vouchers were not recovered and Mrs Smith died last December.

Orbell, who has no previous convictions, admitted three charges of theft.

Mr Godfrey said: “In 2013 the defendant slowly integrated herself into the community. She is not a professional carer. She started carrying out odd jobs and gaining the trust of those that lived there. It became apparent in time that the trust she had gained was being abused.

Mitigating, Richard Reed said: “These are mean and despicable offences. It is right that they treated her as a friend.”

Mr Reed added: “She is thoroughly ashamed of her conduct and bitterly regrets it. She does have an understanding of the distress she has caused the victims.”

Jailing Orbell for two years, Judge Christopher Batty told her: “Taking from the elderly is a despicable thing to do. Taking from the elderly who trusted you, who allowed you into their lives and in some cases thought that you were a friend is quite beyond words.”

Judge Batty said Orbell took four rings from Joyce Hardisty, adding: “She (Mrs Hardisty) asked you about the rings, had you seen them? Did you know where they had gone? You didn’t have the courage to admit it. Instead you said to her: ‘Don’t worry Joyce, if we find the rings I will make sure In put them in your coffin.”

Judge Batty imposed an indefinite restraining order, banning Orbell from Wellington Gardens and from contacting her victims.

Commenting on Orbell’s sentence after the hearing, Joan Marshall said: “She deserves it when she can do what she has done.”

Joyce Hardisty said: “What she said that she would put them in my coffin I though was disgusting. We were brought up to trust people. It felt terrible knowing that she had done it.”