Woman spared jail over flat theft
A woman "snapped" when she discovered her ex-boyfriend was using dating websites and recruited a removal firm to strip his flat bare, a court heard.
Corinna Finney, 39, of Redhouse, Swindon, Wiltshire, felt it was "the last straw" when she found profiles for Brian Waite online.
The mother-of-two arranged for a "man with a van" to come and empty Mr Waite's home while he was away for the day.
Mr Waite returned to find his flat "stripped bare" - with his clothing, food, appliances, cutlery, television and even carpets removed.
He immediately suspected Finney, who was arrested and later admitted a single charge of theft at Swindon Magistrates' Court.
Magistrates told Finney the offence was so serious it could have resulted in a prison sentence, but handed her a 15-month community order instead.
Nigel Spinney, chair of the bench, told Finney: "This was a serious offence, with some planning involved in organising a white van to come and remove all of this furniture.
"We could be sending you to prison today but we are not going to. In the circumstances, from what we have heard and read, we are going to give you a community order today."
The court heard Mr Waite and Finney, who had known each other for 10 years, had been in a relationship for 18 months before it broke down.
Shortly after the break-up, on March 14, Mr Waite left his flat in Moredon, Swindon, at 7.45am to spend the day at the Cheltenham Festival.
Prosecuting, Michelle Hewitt said: " The defendant had arranged for a man with a van to come round and t he place was stripped bare of everything; the carpets, clothing, food and the fridge, the television, oven, cutlery, and his curtains - everything."
Mr Waite returned home at 8.15pm and was horrified to discover all of the items from inside his property had disappeared.
"He suspected the defendant and the police went to her address the next day but none of the property was recovered," the prosecutor said.
"Fortunately, a lot of it was later recovered but some items, including his clothing, carpets and food were never recovered."
Ms Hewitt said the items taken totalled thousands of pounds but those outstanding were worth £950.
"His wardrobe, clothing and footwear were worth £400, his bed and mattress £100, food £150, home-wares £100 and his carpets £200," Ms Hewitt said.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Waite said he had returned to his flat after enjoying a day at the races.
"I was met with a shocking sight," Mr Waite said. "The entire contents of my flat had been stripped out.
"Food had been stolen from the cupboards - I was literally left with the clothes I was wearing.
"When I opened the door to my flat, it was a shock I shall never forget. I just wanted to make a clean break from Corinna, without all of this hassle."
Mitigating, Gordon Hotson said jobless Finney and Mr Waite had been trying to resolve issues in their relationship before her discovery.
"It came as a great shock to her to discover that behind her back he was still using dating type websites, when they were trying to make a go of things," Mr Hotson said.
"For some considerable time, she had been suffering considerable emotional difficulties and the discovery just caused her to snap.
"She wanted to do something that would affect him as she had been affected very badly by the discovery of his alleged infidelity.
"It was the last straw and she acted without properly thinking through the consequence of her actions."
Mr Hotson said his client was remorseful and "with the benefit of hindsight" would not have acted in such a way.
Finney refused to comment following the hearing.