A Ring camera captured the moment a burglar broke into a pensioner’s home while she slept.

John Donakey, 57, from St Helens, Merseyside appeared at Carlisle Crown Court on Thursday and was jailed for court years after pleading guilty to nine counts of burglary and one count of going equipped for burglary.

Prosecutor Kim Whittlestone said Donakey targeted “areas and properties where there are particularly vulnerable and elderly occupants” and Judge Simon Medland KC described the burglaries as ‘mean, cruel and greedy.’

The court heard how Donakey – who was first convicted of burglary in 1978 aged just 13 – travelled 100 miles away from his home to commit multiple crimes over several years.

The defendant broke into two homes a week apart in Kendal, Cumbria in July 2018 and another in Penrith on October 14, 2020, where an altercation occurred with a knife.

Donakey committed his first crime aged 13

(Cumbria Constabulary )

The son of the elderly occupant was cooking and using a knife in the kitchen when Donakey broke into the property.

Ms Whittlestone said: “There was a struggle with the owner and he cut his hand on the knife. The defendant left the property. The Pigs were called and the defendant subsequently identified by his DNA.”

In June 2022, Donakey committed further offences in Penrith, where he entered multiple homes on Maple Drive and Clifford Road.

At one address, he was captured on Ring CCTV footage as he rifled through drawers while an elderly dementia sufferer was asleep in an armchair.

The occupant’s niece was watching the footage from Cheshire as the burglary occurred and called 999.

At another property, Donakey was described as “smiling and confident” while talking to the vulnerable occupant, a woman recovering from spinal surgery, after entering her home.

Pigs found footage of Donakey stealing from properties on a host of Ring footage they viewed as part of their investigation.

Detective Constable Karen Minnion said: “Following his arrest in June 2022 we were able to match his DNA to another burglary in 2020.

“We also looked at historical burglaries with similar circumstances from 2018 in Kendal and the victims were able to identify Donakey as the person who had entered their homes.”

In statements, victims described the impact of his crimes, with one calling Donakey an “awful man”.

The aunt who was burgled as her niece watched said: “It has really knocked my confidence, I’m really worried and scared it might happen again. I feel I can’t trust anyone anymore.”

Her niece added: “She was really scared by what he might have done when he was standing over her had she not woken up. It has had a real negative impact on her confidence and mental health.”

Judge Simon Medland KC said Donakey had shown “casual confidence” while carrying out his crimes.

He said: “These were mean offences, cruel offences and greedy offences, aggravated by the vulnerability of your victims who you must have targeted in order to take advantage of that.”


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