As Emma White lay in hospital following a heart attack, burglars ransacked her home and stole her engagement and wedding rings.
But local criminals in Hartlepool, Cleveland, suspected that Billy Moran, of Mainsforth Terrace, had been involved in the burglary, Alec Burns, for the defence, told Teesside Crown Court. So they tracked him down and beat him up. His nose was broken and his eyes blacked.
Moran was then bundled into a car and threatened with a shotgun. The vigilantes dumped him five miles from his home in Hartlepool, Cleveland, with orders to return her property.
The next day he handed back her missing jewellery, television and video recorder before his attackers tipped off the police.
Mr Burns told the court that the rough justice had done what prison and court orders had failed to do for Moran, who had a criminal record stretching back 13 years. 'It has made him think about the victims of burglaries. He recovered as much of the old lady's property as he could.'
The burglars also stole Mrs White's bank cards, and pounds 200 was drawn from her account on the same day. However, Moran denied doing that, David Brooke, for the prosecution, said.
Moran, 30, was originally charged with last October's burglary at Mrs White's home in Hartlepool. But the Crown accepted his plea of guilty to handling pounds 646 of her property.
Jailing Moran for seven months, Judge Roger Scott said: 'There's obviously some history to this matter involving the handling. I don't think it is necessary for me to go into it, except to say that at last you are realising the upset that burglaries and handling cause people. So much the better. Your record indicates that you are basically a very dishonest man.'Reuse content