NEIGHBOURS have rallied round an 82-year-old widow who was burgled by a cocaine addict as she slept, York Crown Court heard.

The court heard that Peter Alan Johnson Deighton, 25, hooked the woman's handbag out of the kitchen window of her Acomb house where she has lived for 57 years, said Rob Galley, prosecuting.

She told the judge she was very grateful to her neighbours, who responded to news of the burglary by installing extra security for her, giving their labour for free.

Mr Galley said Deighton also stole the honesty box at his place of work with £100 in it.

Defence solicitor advocate Cheryl Rudden said he regretted his actions so much he wanted to apologise to the widow.

Judge Simon Hickey said: “She always regarded her home as sacrosanct. It should not have been invaded by anyone. Luckily she has some supportive neighbours who have been helping her.”

Deighton, of Shirley Avenue, Acomb, pleaded guilty to burglary and asked for the theft to be taken into consideration, and was jailed for 12 months.

He has previous convictions.

Ms Rudden said he had only recently started to take crack cocaine and his arrest had been a wake-up call for him. He was determined now to stay free of drugs both in prison and on his release.

Mr Galley said the widow went to bed on July 8 leaving a kitchen window slightly ajar.

When she woke the next morning the window was wide open and her handbag with her bus pass, purse, bank cards money and other items was missing.

Deighton left a fingerprint on the window frame. He told police he had opened it wider and used a stick to hook and take the handbag.

The bag and the honesty box were found at Deighton’s home when police searched it after his arrest. The box was taken on July 12.

Ms Rudden said Deighton hoped the fact that he had not gone into the widow’s house would help her recover from the burglary.