Naked victim confronted by burglars in her Crawshawbooth home

James Doherty and Lorraine Ashworth

James Doherty and Lorraine Ashworth

First published in News Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Chief reporter

A WOMAN confronted by two intruders, as she stood naked on her own landing, was kissed and hugged by one of the burglars, a court heard.

Victim Karen Dunstan, 53, now locks her bedroom door and is very wary of strangers after being targeted by James Bronco Doherty and Lorraine Ashworth, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Six months earlier, the pair had tricked their way into Mrs Dunstan’s Crawshawbooth home, after helping her across the road when she suffered a twisted ankle, and left with her wedding ring and engagement ring.

Jailing the couple, Recorder Philip Parry said the burglary was ‘particularly mean’, and had left their victim ‘shocked because she had no clothes on and felt vulnerable’.

Doherty, 52, was jailed for three years, and Ashworth, 50, a mother-of-five, was imprisoned for 26 months. The couple, both of Rostrons Buildings, near Cloughfold, had each admitted theft and burglary charges.

Michael Wallbank, prosecuting, said Mrs Dunstan met the defendants when they helped her across the road in Crawshawbooth.

Doherty and Ashworth asked to go back to her home nearby ‘for a brew’.

Mrs Dunstan left the pair inside her home for 10 minutes while she went to a nearby shop.

The court heard she returned, they had a cup of tea, and the couple left, with their host giving them some money for their taxi fare. Mr Wallbank said she then discovered £500 of jewellery was missing, including her treasured rings.

The court was told that around six months later, on March 18, Mrs Dunstan went to bed at about 9.50pm.

A short time later, she heard a creaking noise on the landing and emerged naked from her bedroom to be confronted by Doherty and Ashworth.

Mr Wallbank said Doherty kissed her on the cheek, hugged her, and told her ‘Bobby Thompson’ had sent them. Mrs Dunstan had never heard of the man and she went to get dressed. The trio went downstairs for a cup of tea. The victim left them in the kitchen while she went upstairs to call the police.

Mr Wallbank said police arrived and arrested the couple as they tried to walk out of the back door.

It was discovered £10 and around £2 in change was missing, and two charity boxes had been stashed behind a toilet.

Mark Lamberty, defending Doherty, said his client had made serious efforts to tackle his drugs problems, while on remand, and was remorseful.

Philip Holden, for Ashworth, said she would miss the birth of her third grandchild, and regretted her actions.

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