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Saturday, 23 August 2014

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Half-naked heavily-pregnant burglar escaped over wall, Carlisle court told

A heavily-pregnant woman who broke into a family’s house, stole a child’s money box and wallet, then stripped partially naked and escaped over a wall has been jailed for two and a half years.

Melissa Ridley photo
Melissa Ridley

Carlisle Crown Court heard that Melissa Ridley, 28, carried out the offences while living a “transient existence” after being released from prison.

She gave birth to her baby, which was suffering from drug withdrawal, on Christmas Eve.

Ridley, of Arkleby, near Aspatria, pleaded guilty to one charge of burglary and eight charges of theft.

The court heard that on Sunday, November 3 Ridley was spotted entering the back of a house on King Street, Aspatria, at about 5.15pm.

A mother and father were downstairs while young children were upstairs. When confronted, she falsely told the man that he owed £25,000, and threatened that if it was not paid a group of Liverpudlians would come.

Ridley then began taking off her clothes to demonstrate that she had not stolen anything but revealed a wallet hidden between her legs.

She turned to escape and climbed over a wall, struggling due to her pregnancy.

The man did not want her to fall so he let her go but she was later identified using footprints.

Becky McGregor, prosecuting, said: “This has caused the mother great concern for her children and she described it as a gross invasion of her family’s privacy. The father said that he would have concern for his family when he has to go to work, and he works night shifts.

“There are a significant number of factors which increase the seriousness of this offence – the defendant stripping herself semi-naked, threats made, and steps taken to prevent the victims reporting this to the police.”

The court heard that Ridley could not recall the events of the weekend as she had been taking Valium. She has 44 previous convictions, including shoplifting and theft.

Brendan Burke, defending, said: “When she was released from prison she was living a transient existence and was on Valium, alcohol and methadone.

“She gave birth on Christmas Eve and saw the child for four hours on Christmas Day and on Boxing Day.

“That kind of experience is one which may give her cause to reflect as the child is unhappily in a state of withdrawal. She tells me she’s determined to use the time in prison properly.”

The judge heard that over a month Ridley had committed eight offences of theft from shops across west Cumbria, including Aspatria, Maryport and Cockermouth, stealing alcohol and make-up. All thefts were carried out while Ridley was on bail for a previous offence.

Sentencing, Judge Paul Batty QC told her: “The mother and her children have been heavily traumatised in respect of your behaviour. You are someone that is utterly out of control and I am bound to impose a significant sentence upon you.”

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