Burglar caught on CCTV rifling through Cumbria pensioner's home as she slept

John Donakey was told the offences were 'mean and cruel' as they targeted elderly people. Credit: Cumbria Police

A burglar caught on CCTV raiding the home of a Cumbria pensioner as she slept in an armchair nearby has been jailed.

John Donakey, 57, of St Helens, Merseyside, targeted elderly people across the county in a string of incidents - travelling more than 100 miles to carry out the crimes.

During one burglary, the victim's niece was watching live CCTV images from inside her aunt's home as Donakey entered and began looking through her belongings.

The niece, watching from her home in Cheshire, then contacted the police but Donakey was no longer there.

Detective Constable Karen Minnion said: “Donakey is a prolific burglar who had no issue with entering properties with no regards for the occupants and made excuses for his presence if disturbed."

“Following his arrest in June 2022 we were able to match his DNA to another burglary in 2020. We also looked at historical burglaries with similar circumstances from 2018 in Kendal and the victims were able to identify Donakey as the person who had entered their homes.”

During that incident in 2020, Donakey entered a home in Penrith while the elderly occupant’s son was preparing food in the kitchen. 

Donakey's hand was cut in the struggle and the DNA gathered was later used to identify him.

John Donakey was jailed after being caught on CCTV rifling through a pensioner's belongings. Credit: Cumbria Police

Donakey pleaded guilty to nine counts of burglary and one of going equipped. He was sentenced to four years in prison at Carlisle Crown Court.

Judge Medland said: “These were mean offences, cruel offences and greedy offences, aggravated by the vulnerability of your victims who you must have targeted in order to take advantage of that."