A HEARTLESS crook who targets the elderly and frail has been jailed after rifling through the pockets of a double stroke victim and stealing £20 from him as he lay defenceless on his bed.

Heroin addicted mother-of-three Sinead Shaw, 25, had walked into the 70-year-old victim's home uninvited, knowing he would not be able to stop her thieving and had 'violated' him by putting her hand down his trousers in her search for cash for her next fix last November 12.

Burnley Crown Court heard how the disabled and ill pensioner had suffered two, possibly three strokes, which had affected his mobility.

He struggled to speak, walked with a stick and had carers to help with this daily living such as bathing and cooking and supervise his medication.

The vulnerable man was so lonely he allowed 'undesirables' to use his home for drug taking and drinking sessions, just so he had company. Shaw, who had been one of them, had been banned from his property after an earlier theft.

The hearing was told Shaw, who claimed to the police her victim was a heavy drinker and couldn't be believed, also went on to allege the money was for sexual favours.

She didn't own up until the day she was due to the tried and only then when she knew the man was being brought to court and was determined to go through with his evidence. He would have been assisted by an intermediary.

Shaw has more than 50 offences on her record, had clocked up 20 convictions by the time she was 16 and struck just two months after being given a jail term for stealing from an infirm woman.

She sobbed as she was jailed for four-and-a half years, by Recorder Anthony Cross, QC, who slammed her as totally without compassion and told her: "You worm your way into the life of an elderly person, gain their trust and then abuse that trust."

The defendant, of Buccleuch Road, Nelson, had admitted burglary, committed last November 12. She also received an indefinite restraining order to keep her away from the pensioner.

James Heyworth, defending, read a letter of apology to the court from the defendant, in which she said she had been selfish,was deeply sorry for the hurt she had caused and wanted a fresh start.

Sentencing Recorder Anthony Cross, QC, said: "The only purpose of you visiting his home was to abuse him by stealing from him. I have no doubt that this caused him incredible distress.

"You have made this man's life a misery from the very first moment you made contact with him until the present moment and you show no compassion for him or remorse "