A cemetery thief who “brazenly” stole three bouquets of flowers from a child’s grave broke down in tears as she was jailed. Drug-addicted mum Leanne Slater, 39, stole flowers from Durham Road cemetery in Stockton on Tees, on June 7 last year and intended to sell them on, a court heard.
The despicable act left grieving mother Donna Dixon, 45, heartbroken,
She visited her son’s grave at the cemetery earlier to pay tribute to her son Keiran.
Keiran, 14, died suddenly in 2012 and was being visited by friends and family to mark 10 years since his death.
His loved ones shared stories and laid fresh flowers, however, they were left shaken to find that the floral tributes were cruelly stolen shortly after.
Slater was caught on CCTV stealing the red and white bouquets, however, she denied the allegations.
During the trial, Keiran’s friend Jessica Hart said she first realised the flowers had been stolen after receiving a Facebook message containing a picture of the defendant carrying two of the bouquets she had left.
She was then sent CCTV of Slater carrying the flowers in Stockton.
Prosecutor Anne Mitchell said Ms Dixon was told and realised where the thief was in the photograph, reported Gazette Live.
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She told the court: “Donna Dixon then attended the location and found the defendant and detained her until police arrived. She was wearing the same clothing as the female pictured leaving the cemetery with the flowers.”
Giving evidence, Ms Dixon said when she saw the picture she got in her car and looked for the defendant.
She said: “I saw her wearing the same coat and got out and confronted her. She just denied she had been anywhere near.”
On Tuesday, Slater argued with the judge and sobbed as Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard that she was also in breach of a suspended sentence from a previous offence.
Prosecutor Uzma Khan said that Slater had also tried to steal an elderly woman’s handbag while out shopping in Hartlepool on April 10.
Judge Christopher Smith muted Slater before telling her: “Taking flowers brazenly from a graveside is a particularly cruel thing to do. This is a miserable case. One can imagine how much grief she felt when she left the flowers at the grave.
“And how much misery you caused when you stole the flowers. You just looked at them and thought, ‘I could sell those. I could get a bit of cash.’
“You thought you’d help yourself to that handbag and you dragged your second victim around by it. You’ve left her shaken and in a degree of misery too.”
Slater, of Durham Road in Stockton, was handed a 46-month prison term for the theft of the flowers, the attempted robbery and the breach of a suspended sentence order.
Speaking after Slater’s previous court hearing, Ms Dixon told Teesside Live: “It’s appalling to even stoop that low.
“It’s not nice to steal anything but from a cemetery it’s just disgusting. It was such a kick in the teeth the flowers had only been on his garden for half an hour and it was his 10th memorial.
“He was a popular kid so everyone knew where the flowers had come from so we were just absolutely gutted. It made me sick to my stomach. I understand people have problems but it just leaves you speechless to think people would do that.”