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Mum sobs in dock as she faces prison
9:00am Friday 2nd November 2012 in News
A HEAVILY pregnant mum who missed her own trial after jumping bail sobbed in the dock as a judge jailed her for three years.
Kathleen Shiel was told that, despite her condition, there as no reason why it was wrong to give her the mandatory term for a third house burglary.
As a result of the sentence the 26-year-old's baby will almost certainly be taken away from her when it arrives later in the month, Swindon Crown Court was told.
Shiel was found guilty of burgling the Park South home of a vulnerable 77-year-old man in September last year.
Tony Bignall, defending, said: “She is noticeably pregnant. the date of the birth is expected to be November 24. I am no expert, but to look at her it may be sooner.
“She is worried about what might happen. The pre-sentence report talks of a mother and baby unit.
“She has been told if she were to receive a three-year sentence today the child would be taken from her.”
But jailing her Judge Douglas Field said: “Your victim was 77, an elderly man in poor health. It was quite clearly a distraction burglary.
“He had to come here and give evidence. He was obviously badly affected by the experience of the burglary.
“You jumped bail and you were convicted in your absence.
“You have a bad record, a bad record for dishonesty offences and in particular burglary.
“You are liable to be sentenced to the minimum term of three years.
“While I have some sympathy for your predicament I can’t find there are circumstances that mean I can’t pass the minimum three-year term.”
As he told her of his decision the defendant, who has another child who is looked after by her mother, cried in the dock.
Shiel already had two previous convictions for house breaking when she took part in a distraction burglary on the pensioner.
While another person kept him talking at the front door Shiel, who was known to the victim, made her way into the house to search upstairs for things to steal.
After grabbing his wallet containing cash and bank cards she pushed past him before making off.
She had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was due to stand trial at Swindon Crown Court in July.
After turning up later for the hearing she was discussing pleading guilty with her solicitor when she asked if he could guarantee she would not be remanded into custody. He told her he could not and when he turned round she had fled the building, so the trial was conducted with out her.
Having heard the pensioner give evidence the jury found her guilty and, after a plea by the judge, the police tracked her down and arrested her.
Shiel, of Belsay, Toothill, also admitted failing to surrender to the custody of the court. The judge said he would show her mercy by not imposing a consecutive sentence for that matter.