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A vulnerable 70-year-old woman collapsed and died after a burglar broke into her home in the dead of night.

The woman – who suffered with a heart condition – dialled 999 and her last few moments before she died were filled with “unimaginable terror.” When police arrived, the woman was already dead despite officers arriving just minutes after she told them she was locking herself in her bedroom.

HullLive reports that serial burglar Adam Virr, 35, already had 108 previous convictions before he broke into the woman’s house. Hull Crown Court heard that his crime “undoubtedly” caused her death “at least in part,” but he had not been charged with manslaughter after prosecutors decided that he could not have foreseen the tragic and “exceptional” consequences of his actions.

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The court heard he admitted burglary and aggravated burglary on October 24 2020. 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. “She was going to lock herself in her bedroom,” said Miss Kioko-Gilligan.

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.

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 in 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.

Virr already had over 100 previous convictions on his record
Virr already had over 100 previous convictions on his record

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.

“It must be clearly understood that you are not charged and have never been charged with causing the killing of your victim. I am sentencing for burglary and not manslaughter.

“The Crown Prosecution Service made the decision that there was no basis upon which you could be criminally responsible for the death of your victim. “Although I adjourned the case to allow judicial consideration of that decision to ensure that the decision had been fully and carefully evaluated, ultimately the decision is that of the CPS but I am satisfied a proper evaluation has taken place.

“Accordingly, whilst your actions undoubtedly caused, at least in part, the death of your victim, the charging decision means that it is accepted by the prosecution that you could not have foreseen the consequences of your unlawful act, namely burglary. I repeat, therefore, that you are only criminally responsible for the burglary and not the death.

“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 realised that he was trying to break into her home in the middle of the night.

“As a career criminal with very relevant previous convictions, you undoubtedly appreciate that, when you break into a person’s home in the middle of the night, there is a significant risk that the occupant will be disturbed and, if they are, you are responsible for the obvious terror caused,” said Judge Thackray. “It is every person’s worst nightmare to be woken in the night by a person attempting to gain entry to their home, a place where they are entitled to feel safe and secure.”

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 months 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. “That was the risk he ran breaking into someone’s home late at night,” said Mr Frieze.

Virr claimed that he thought that he was breaking into a porch at the pensioner’s home. “He saw a light and realised that somebody was there and he ran away,” said Mr Frieze. “He wasn’t seeking a confrontation or anything of that nature.”

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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