Tragedy of house raid OAP

A PENSIONER who was subjected to a terrifying ordeal when two drug addicts broke into her home never fully recovered, her grieving daughter told the EADT last night.

A PENSIONER who was subjected to a terrifying ordeal when two drug addicts broke into her home never fully recovered, her grieving daughter told the EADT last night.

Joyce Whatley woke to find a hand covering her face as Robert Hubert and Ross Moorhouse raided her home in Elmswell, near Stowmarket, at 4am on July 12 last year.

The pair – who escaped with just £6 and some chocolate bars – were both jailed for their part in the sickening ordeal at Ipswich Crown Court yesterday.

Speaking last night, Elaine Marjoram told the EADT how the raid changed her 82-year-old mother, who died on January 16.

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Mrs Marjoram, one of four children, said: “It was just so pointless and stupid – she was a little old lady on her own.

“There aren't words to describe how I feel about that pair. It wasn't just mum that was violated – it was all of us.”

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Mrs Whatley, who had lived in Elmswell for more than 50 years, suffered from a blood disorder and a heart condition.

“She went downhill after what happened,” added Mrs Marjoram, who lives in Woodbridge. “She was always very outgoing, she craved company and she'd talk to anyone, but I think she lost a bit of her old spark after the burglary.

“She was not as happy as she always had been – like she was completely unsettled. I think it had more of an impact on her than she let on.

“It upset her a lot and it knocked her confidence.”

Moorhouse, 22, of Laurel Court, Elmswell, was jailed for three-and-a-half years after admitting the burglary and a string of other offences, including stealing a car, handling stolen goods, taking a set of number plates and a further burglary.

He asked for eight more offences, including theft, criminal damage and trying to gain access to a property, to be taken into consideration.

Hubert, 23, of Hazelton Road, Colchester, also pleaded guilty to the burglary and was sentenced to two-and-half years in prison.

Hubert's brother Simon, 22, of Shakespeare Road, Ipswich, who acted as a “look out” for the pair, was jailed for 18 months for burglary at a court hearing in September.

Steven Dyble, prosecuting at the court yesterday, said the trio had been told large sums of money were kept at the house.

He said Mrs Whatley lived alone at the house and was asleep on her sofa when Moorhouse and Hubert broke in through a back door.

“The first she was aware was when an ungloved hand was placed over her mouth and pressure was applied,” he added.

“She was confused and frightened. Her next recollection is running out on to the street, where she was seen by a milkman.”

The milkman recalled seeing two men walking along the A14 earlier and police stopped Robert and Simon Hubert near the Tot Hill service station.

They were not arrested on the spot but both brothers and Moorhouse were later questioned and all three eventually admitted their involvement.

Mr Dyble said they used a crow bar to break into the house, with Simon Hubert acting as a look out while Robert Hubert and Moorhouse searched the house.

He said Robert Hubert told police the two had run out of the house after the woman screamed, grabbing a bag of chocolate bars on the way. They had managed to steal about £6.

Both Hubert, who is formerly of Ipswich, and Moorhouse denied putting their hand over Mrs Whatley's mouth.

Moorhouse admitted he knew Mrs Whatley from around Elmswell but claimed he didn't know it was her house they burgled, the court heard.

Caroline Bradshaw, for Hubert, said her client's intention that night was to go out and steal to fund his drug habit.

“He freely admits his offending is a result of him using Class A drugs,” she added.

She said he had been drug-free for five months, was in a steady relationship and he was keen to kick his habit.

He is currently serving a term of 15 months for a string of offences including burglary and driving offences.

Richard Potts, for Moorhouse, said his client spent £350 a day on crack cocaine at the height of his drug habit.

He added Moorehouse's arrest and court appearance had proved a “watershed” in his outlook on life and he was making positive efforts to change.

Judge John Devaux rejected the defence barristers' calls to order a drug treatment and testing assessment and sent both to jail.

They were both given 30 months for the burglary while Moorhouse was sentenced to a further 12 months for his other offences.

After the hearing, Elmswell parish council clerk Peter Dow remembered Mrs Whatley as a “unique character.”

“When the burglary happened there was a tremendous amount of anger about it,” he added. “She was never quite the same after that – it was a very frightening experience for her.

“She was irreplaceable. Lots of people who don't even know it yet will miss her terribly.”

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