Tuesday, 18 Feb 2020

Teacher's face reveals toll of drugs after she became burglar to fund her habit

A former teacher and her boyfriend have been jailed for committing a string of burglaries against the elderly to fund their drug habits.

Elenor Proctor, 36, was described as a functioning addict who used to inspect schools for Ofsted, but now she is starting a four-year prison sentence.

A judge told her that the jail term was a ‘spectacular, but in many ways inevitable fall from the life you once had’.

He detailed how she went from having a decent job and a family in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, to being homeless and on the street in her mid-30s as a result of a 15-year class A drug addiction.

Proctor and boyfriend Patrick Nicholson, 34, tricked their way into elderly people’s houses in order to steal from them.

Nicholson was jailed for eight years after asking for another eight offences to be taken into account.

Judge Richard Mansell QC told them: ‘So low did you both go that you chose quite consciously to finance your addictions by committing these distraction burglaries, which are amongst the worst kind of dwelling house burglary offences.

‘You deliberately targeted elderly, vulnerable householders living in the Eccles area.

‘Such offences are cowardly and despicable and have huge and often long lasting effects on the victims.’

Proctor’s barrister said her troubles started when her relationship with her children’s father broke down. He is then said to have made ‘malicious allegations’ about her and she was not allowed home as a result.

That’s when she met Nicholson who had previously served a six-year prison sentence for robbery.

They were together for a matter of months before they started committing burglaries to fund their drug habit.

They tricked one woman out of £2,050 after telling her they needed payment for checking her water pipes.

On another occasion they got into a victim’s home then threw a safe containing £20,000 in jewellery from a bedroom window before returning to collect it later.

Ahead of being sentenced Nicholson told the judge: ‘I don’t know where to start, Your Honour. These crimes are shameful, they bring shame on my family. I deserve hanging for them. I know that, you know that.

‘I have been on drugs for the past eight years. I have never done anything like this in my life before. I am normally a car thief.

‘When you’re on crack cocaine all your morals go out of the window.’

Proctor defended Nicholson saying: ‘He gave me somewhere to live. I was on the streets. I have to give him credit for that.

‘This isn’t me. I’m not a burglar. I lost everything in the space of a week. I just spiralled out of control. I have to say Mr Nicholson tried to help me. He didn’t try to coerce me or anything

‘We needed this Your Honour, or we would have ended up dead.’

Defending Proctor, who has no previous convictions, Mark Friend said: ‘This defendant went from a decent, well remunerated existence to the abuse of class A drugs and the commission of offences like this.’

Kate Hammond said Nicholson, who she said described himself as a ‘smackhead’, is on detox in prison.

She said Nicholson, who is illiterate and from a ‘travelling family’, had used drugs ‘block out things’ after he was abused as a child.

Nicholson ‘accepts he needs help’ and his family are ‘ashamed’ of him, Ms Hammond added.

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