A THIEF co-erced into taking part in a £12,000 raid on a widow’s home as she slept at night has been spared a trip to jail.

Tom Storey, prosecuting, said Luke Edwards, 24, was one of three men who between them burgled the house in Heworth, York, and took jewellery including the victim’s wedding and engagement rings from her bedroom.

Edwards told police the other two threatened to “smash his head on the kerb” unless he got in through a window they had broken and opened the back door for them. He stayed in the kitchen and did not go into the bedroom.

He told the officers he was the one who sold jewellery they had stolen when all three went to Asquith’s jeweller’s in Goodramgate, because he was the only one with an ID document. Edwards had no previous convictions.

Judge Neil Davey QC told Edwards: “I am satisfied that you have been exploited by others.”

He also said: “Despite your age you are still someone who is easily led, someone who finds it difficult to say no to those who have stronger and more dominant personalities than yours.”

Edwards’ solicitor advocate Mark Partridge said: “He is a young man who does his best to please and that has been his downfall.”

Edwards, now of Wentworth Road, Doncaster, pleaded guilty to burglary and fraud and was given a 12-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months on condition that he does 12 months’ supervision, 200 hours’ unpaid work and a rehabilitation programme.

He must also pay £2,400 compensation to the widow.

Mr Storey said she was £8,000 out of pocket because her insurance company would only pay £1,700 for a ring it valued at £10,000.

None of the sold jewellery had been recovered because the jeweller had sent them for smelting before police tracked them down. A golf bag and clubs were also stolen.

Mr Storey said a second man arrested over the burglary had not been charged because he had denied taking part at a police interview and there was no forensic evidence linking him to the crime.

The victim spoke to The Press after the court case, but did not want to be named.

She said: “I feel there should be a timeframe between jewellery being brought into a shop for sale and these items being sent off to be smelted down. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I was very surprised to hear it could happen like this.

“It is one thing to have some identification, but that possibly does not mean too much.”