Robber stole ring from finger of cancer victim, 87

A “DESPICABLE” drug addict from North Yorkshire who stole the wedding ring off the finger of an 87-year-old cancer sufferer in her bed has been jailed for 14 years.

Steven Kerr, 35, broke into his neighbour Nellie Holliday’s home in the early hours of the morning and grabbed her ring and a gold chain from around her neck.

Widow Mrs Holliday was left “absolutely terrified” by the robbery and was heard screaming as she called for help.

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Kerr was jailed for a total of 14 years at York Crown Court today for a number of offences.

Judge Stephen Ashurst described the robbery as “cowardly”.

He said: “Not content with stealing something in the property that was lying around, you removed the wedding ring from this 87-year-old widow’s finger. Having done that, you yanked a gold chain from around her neck.”

Judge Ashurst added: “That lady was absolutely terrified.”

He continued: “The impact was very great indeed. Mrs Holliday was absolutely distraught.

“She was still physically shaking at the time a police officer arrived to speak to her.”

The judge said such crimes against elderly, vulnerable victims living alone were considered “particularly despicable”.

Kerr lived two houses away from Mrs Holliday on Highfield Crescent, in Barlby, North Yorkshire, and had done some gardening for her a few months before the robbery in March last year.

Mrs Holliday had breast cancer and only had a few months left to live.

She also suffered from high blood pressure and anaemia and was hard of hearing.

Kerr, dressed in a dark hooded top and balaclava, broke into her home through a rear window at 2.30am on March 9 2011.

Mrs Holliday was sat in her bed in a downstairs room, due to being too frail to go upstairs, when Kerr stole her jewellery from her before walking calmly away without speaking.

The 87-year-old called for help using an alert service in her home and Kerr was tracked to his house by a police dog.

Kerr, who has been a drug user for 20 years, carried out the robbery while on bail for offences of supplying class C drugs and allowing his house to be used for the supply of heroin.

After being released on bail for the robbery while forensic examinations were carried out, he burgled a house and stole a fob watch to sell for drugs.

The court heard the watch had little financial value but had significant sentimental value to its owner.

Describing how Kerr defaced the watch before selling it, Judge Ashurst said: “You were callous enough to scrape off the inscription.”

He pleaded guilty to the burglary and the drugs offences and was found guilty of the robbery after a trial.

Kerr was jailed for concurrent sentences of six months and 12 months for the drugs offences.

He was handed consecutive jail terms of 12 months for the burglary and 12 years for the robbery of Mrs Holliday.

Sabrina Hartshorn, defending, said Kerr suffered a fractured eye socket after he was attacked in prison following his conviction for the robbery.

He showed no emotion as he was sentenced but acknowledged a member of the public gallery as he was led away to the cells.