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Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Britain's oldest woman, 112, is burgled by thug who pretended to be delivery driver
A burglar has been jailed for one of a series of raids which terrorised Britain’s oldest person.
Jesse Coker, 46, tricked his way into Grace Jones’ home in south London a month after her 112th birthday.
It was the third break-in within weeks suffered by the frail pensioner, Woolwich Crown Court heard. Her property on the Southwark Park Estate, Rotherhithe, has become a magnet for crooks.
Jesse Coker, 46, tricked his way into the home of Grace Jones (right) in south London a month after her 112th birthday. It was the third break-in at the home of the frail pensioner within weeks, Woolwich Crown Court heard
Jesse Coker (right) pretended to be a delivery man to gain access to her home, where he pinched her purse. He has been jailed for four years and five months
Five days before Ms Jones’ 112th birthday, a thief entered her home and stole her £300 pension. The next day an attempted robbery took place leaving the supercentenarian frightened and unsure whether she could ever recover.
Coker struck just over a month later on January 24 at around 10.45am, said prosecutor Vivian Walters.
He rang Mrs Jones’ doorbell pretending to be a delivery driver.
Ms Walters said: ‘Mrs Jones went to the door and called out, "Who’s there?"
‘She was expecting the district nurse to visit her that day in order to change a dressing on her leg.
‘She heard no reply so she opened the door a crack.
‘He pushed the door open, barged past Mrs Jones and made his way into the flat. In the living room, he found her bag, rifled through it and removed her purse.’ Coker was caught after two neighbours recognised him and alerted the police. Matthew Madigan, whose flat overlooks the pensioner’s on the estate, approached Coker who threatened to stab him. Mr Madigan and next-door-neighbour Tracey Simmons who joined him were praised by Judge Stephen Dawson for their bravery. Coker, of Charlton, south-east London, was due to stand trial for the burglary but pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years and five months' imprisonment. Charges of going equipped for burglary and refusing to provide a sample for a class A drug test were dropped. Judge Dawson said he took into account the fact that Coker had admitted his crime even at a late stage. But he said the burglar had preyed on a frail elderly woman and there was no alternative but to give him a ‘substantial jail term'. The court heard he has a series of previous convictions for burglary. Detective Constable Mark Powell, from Southwark’s Priority Crime Unit, said: ‘Coker picked on a vulnerable victim who he believed to be an easy target, he didn’t consider the bravery of the victim or the tenacity of her neighbours who were commended by the judge at today’s sentencing.’
Ms Jones became the oldest person on February 29 when the woman who previously held the title, Violet Wood, died.
She attributes her long life to eating ‘good English food, never anything frozen’.
The pensioner was born on December 7, 1899, and also holds the title for being the only person alive in the UK to have been born in the 1800s.
She never married, but was engaged before her fiance was killed during World War One.
She turned down later proposals, choosing instead to take care of her mother and siblings.