Family pleased with jail sentence handed to churchgoer Sandra Bullock who stole valuables from pensioner's home
An 89-year-old widow and her daughter from Northumberland have spoken of the stress and suffering caused by a friend who turned out to be a thief.
Sandra Bullock, 69, took broaches, ornaments and antiques worth at least £6,000 from Joyce Sumner’s home, near Longframlington, over five years to April 2018.
Bullock, of Simonside View, Rothbury, admitted charges of theft and burglary on the day of her expected trial in December.
At Newcastle Crown Court on Thursday, she was jailed for 12 months for the burglary and three months for theft, to run concurrently.
Joyce’s daughter, Diane Vannan, said: “We are pleased with the sentence and that now there is no risk that Sandra can to do this to another vulnerable person for quite some time.”
She also thanked Northumbria Police and the Crown Prosecution Service for their hard work on the case.
Diane, from Morpeth, said the thefts placed huge stress on her mum and on her relationships with her family, due to items vanishing and being unaccounted for.
“Besides the considerable financial loss and the sorrow of losing items which can never be replaced by money, the worst aspect of this crime was the emotional toll on my mother and myself,” she revealed.
“Neither of us, or any of our family could understand what was happening, things were disappearing piece by piece with no apparent explanation, over a period of five years. It made us suspect everyone we knew.
“It put a strain on my relationship with my mother.
“I know mum began to think she was doing things without knowing, which worried and frightened her, and looking back this must have been dreadful for her.”
She continued: “After Sandra was caught by our neighbours in April 2018 we couldn’t believe someone we thought was a friend could be so vindictive towards us. I felt guilt that I had thought my mother had been taking my things and either throwing them away or giving them to someone else.
“Even after being caught Sandra’s refusal to plead guilty meant we endured another 18 months of stress until she finally admitted all the charges.”
In a statement, Joyce revealed: “Although I knew Sandra as an elder of my church she only started to telephone me and visit after my husband died in April 2013. I looked forward to her visits as she was always cheery and I believed she was my friend.
“I would tell her about hospital appointments and holidays and family visits I was planning. I realise now why she was so interested, she often rang beforehand and asked when I would be in.
“When things were disappearing I know my children thought it was something I was doing and as the months and years went on I started to believe this myself. I felt I must be going mad.
“I felt uncertainty, and worried I was doing things that I had no recollection of, as it turns out I wasn’t, it was part of the plan. I still have difficulty realising she could have treated me so cruelly.”