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Man steals £40,000 of parents’ jewellery while they are on holiday and sells it

A son who stole his parents’ £42,000 jewellery collection while they were away on holiday has been jailed.

Richard Lea, 38, lived with his mum and dad in Croft Park, Cheshire.

He raided their bedroom to locate a key to their safe and ‘systematically plundered’ eighteen items before selling them at a jewellers, Minshull Street Crown Court court heard.

He was first confronted by dad Nigel after they returned following their break.

The angry parents called police and he has now been jailed for 20 months.

The family say they have ‘struggled to come to terms with his behaviour’ and asked Lea to leave the family home until the trial.

Prosecuting, Laura Broome said on July 11 last year that the father opened up the lock safe in his study to collect a piece of jewellery. He then noticed that four jewellery boxes had been emptied.

She said: “Eighteen items of jewellery worth £42,000, as well as £700 in cash, were missing from the safe.

“He suspected the defendant had stolen the items as he had stolen money from them before.

“When the defendant returned home from work, Mr Lea confronted him about the missing items.

“At first he denied it but he then admitted he had stolen them and sold them on.”

In a victim personal statement, Mr Nigel Lea said: “The theft of our entire jewellery collection has left us shocked and we have struggled to come to terms with his behaviour.

“We have built up this from all over the world over a 20 year period.

“Every piece has special memories and strong emotional connection, and those memories have now been stolen.”

He went on the state that that his wife was looking forward to passing the items on to their granddaughter.

Lea was said to have a number of previous convictions including one offence of theft and 25 offences of fraud by false representation.

Mitigating, Keith Jones said: “He fully accepts there is a level of trust he has breached. He is now living on the sofa of a friend and has an entirely different life now.”

Sentencing him, Judge Angela Nield said: “This is, without doubt, one of the meanest offences that I have seen come before this court.

“You are no longer a child.

“Over a period of some 12 months, you systematically plundered your parents safe whilst they were absent from the family home and removed £42,800 worth of your mother’s jewellery.

“It represents nothing more than greed and desire for a lifestyle beyond your attainable means.

“There is little explanation for that behaviour.”