Thief who targeted 'vulnerable' caught with £910 in her bra
A woman who stole cash and jewellery from two "vulnerable" men has been jailed for 15 months.
Lesa Knocker (29), whose address was given as Hydebank, pleaded guilty to five charges arising from an incident earlier this year.
Belfast Crown Court heard that Knocker targeted two residents who lived at Fletcher Lodge in south Belfast, which provides sheltered accommodation for people with difficulties.
Prosecutor Philip Henry revealed one of Knocker's victims had cerebral palsy. He also revealed she had a history of ingratiating herself with "men who have vulnerabilities".
In January two women, one of whom was Knocker, pushed their way into the flat of a 74-year-old resident of the lodge, claiming they needed to use the toilet.
When the man returned to his flat, he noticed his safe was open and £1,400 was missing.
He reported the theft to police the following day, and whilst at the flats officers were approached by a second resident who has cerebral palsy and difficulties communicating. He was able to tell police that the previous day he invited two women into his flat for a cup of tea.
He said that once inside, the woman started going through his cupboards and stole two gold chains and a gold ring.
Mr Henry said CCTV from the corridor was of good quality and police were able to identify Knocker. She was later located on the Malone Avenue area of Belfast, where she displayed signs that she was under the influence of drugs.
When she was searched, £910 in cash was found inside her bra. She was also found to be in possession of a quality of Diazepam.
Defence barrister Denis Boyd said Knocker's guilty pleas spared the two vulnerable witnesses the stress of giving evidence in court.
Saying it was his client's case that £500 of the money found down her bra was her own and that she planned to buy presents for her children, Mr Boyd said that despite "some conflict" over the details of her offending, Knocker had accepted responsibility.
The barrister said Knocker "expressed genuine regret and remorse" for her actions.
Passing sentence, Judge McFarland said: "I accept you had a rather chaotic lifestyle and to fund that lifestyle you found it necessary to steal."
He also warned Knocker that if she continued to offend she could expect to receive "substantial prison sentences."