Woman jailed for using six-year-old girl to burgle

A woman who duped a six-year-old girl into breaking into a house and stealing a laptop was jailed yesterday for 20 months.

Karen Richards, 23, of Ravenhill in Swansea, targeted a group of children as they played in the street last August.

She approached the group of schoolgirls, saying: "Hello girls, I have left my keys in the house; could one of you help me? I'll give you some money."

Richards, a long-term heroin addict, stood trial at Swansea Crown Court, where she denied a charge of child abduction. The jury heard she admitted burglary, effectively acknowledging the method and means but denying that using a child amounted to abduction.

Brian Simpson, for the prosecution, said the group of girls had been playing in the street in the city's Sandfields area on 5 August when Richards approached.

The six-year-old girl – who cannot be named for legal reasons – agreed to go with her and Richards helped her through an open conservatory window to get into a house in nearby Vincent Street. When she proved unable to open the property's front door, Richards got the child to pass her a laptop and its charging lead through the window.

Richards was arrested later the following month.

The jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict in 10 minutes.