A terrified 70-year-old woman with a collapsed heart condition and died just minutes following a burglary at her home by a “career criminal” in the dead of night.
The woman telephoned the police by dialing 999 just after 3.15am, however she suffered “trauma” just before she died and must have been filled with “unimaginable terror”.
When police arrived at the woman’s home she was already dead, only minutes after she told them that she was locking herself in her bedroom.
Adam Virr, 35, admitted burglary and attempted burglary on October 24, 2020, when he appeared at Hull Crown Court.
However, although the career criminal, with convictions for 108 offences, “undoubtedly” caused her death “at least in part”, he had not been charged with manslaughter after prosecutors decided that he could not have predicted the tragic and “exceptional” consequences of his actions.
Cathy Kioko-Gilligan, prosecuting, said that police received a 999 call at 3.16am from the elderly woman to say that there was someone inside her house in Bridlington. She sounded as though she had fainted.
Police went there a few minutes later and found the front door ajar. They discovered that the woman had died.
“She had a pre-existing heart condition,” said Miss Kioko-Gilligan.
A post mortem revealed that she had died as a result of reduced blood supply to her heart and that there was a link between the reporting of the burglary and her “being in a state of cardiac arrest”.
Efforts were made to revive her but she had already died. This was confirmed by an ambulance crew, according to Hull Live.
After a search, the keys to her home were discovered in the garden of a nearby house. They were in a plant pot outside another house.
Virr had earlier tried to break into the home of a couple on the same road while they were in bed. They both heard a noise but went back to sleep.
Both houses had been targeted because there were high-value cars outside. There was a BMW near the elderly woman’s home and an Audi A5 outside the couple’s home.
Virr was arrested in a stolen car on October 24, 2020, after returning to Bridlington. Inside that car were mole grips that Virr has used during the burglary at the elderly woman’s home.
The pensioner’s son later said that he firmly believed that the shock caused her sudden collapse and ultimately led to her dying.
Judge John Thackray QC said: “In the final minutes of her life, she was in terror.”
He told Virr: “It must be clearly understood that you are not being sentenced for the killing of your victim. I am sentencing for burglary and not manslaughter.
“You were not to know that your victim had a heart condition but, as the saying goes, you take your victim as you find them.”
Virr caused the woman “unimaginable terror” in the final moments of her life when she realized that he was trying to break into her home in the middle of the night.
Virr had convictions for 108 previous offences, including being jailed for three years and eight months in April last year for burglary and dangerous driving.
He later received a consecutive 21 month sentence in May last year.
The prison sentences were imposed at York Crown Court and Leeds Crown Court. He also had burglary convictions from Bradford Crown Court in 2006.
Robin Frieze, mitigating, said that Virr obviously had no idea about the woman’s health condition.
Virr, of no fixed address, was jailed for six years after Judge Thackray said that the “exceptional consequences” of the burglary, involving the “trauma” of what happened to the elderly woman, including her heart attack, justified a departure from the “ straitjacket” of the usual sentencing guidelines.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.