A SERIAL burglar who “invaded and turned over” an elderly widow’s home leaving her too afraid to venture out has been jailed for three years.

Robert Dooley, 62, and his accomplice, Jason Mcilvenny, both “third strike” housebreakers kicked and smashed their way into the 81-year-old woman’s home in Shelf on the morning of May 26 last year, Bradford Crown Court heard today.

They made an untidy search of the property before making off with a sapphire ring and a pearl necklace.

Dooley, of Shirley Manor Gardens, Wyke, Bradford, and Mcilvenny, 49, of Olicana House, Chapel Street, Bradford city centre, pleaded guilty to burgling the house and entering the garage with intent to steal.

Mcilvenny was jailed for three years and nine months at an earlier hearing.

Prosecutor Paul Canfield said Dooley had 48 previous convictions for 149 offences, including 76 for theft-related matters and 33 for burglary.

Mr Canfield said the woman left her home at 10am on the day of the burglary and returned at 12.15pm to find that housebreakers had smashed their way in, causing at least £2,000 damage.

The court heard that they had taken it in turns to kick through a conservatory door and smash an interior door. Once inside, they opened drawers and tipped a handbag on to the bed.

They found the key to the garage and looked inside but did not steal anything from it.

The widow said in her victim personal statement that she was just getting herself back together after her husband’s death when she was burgled.

She had lived in the house for 60 years and the invasion into her home had knocked her back and left her devastated.

She was shocked and tearful, uncomfortable at home on her own and afraid to go out in case she was burgled again.

Mr Canfield said the offending was aggravated by the fact that Dooley was on licence, he had an accomplice and he was “a three striker.”

Andrew Walker said in mitigation that Dooley had a number of very serious health problems.

He apologised profusely to his victim, saying he did not know that an elderly lady lived at the house. He was ashamed and depressed about what he had done.

Judge Neil Davey QC said the house the women had lived in for 60 years was “invaded and turned upside down.”

He conceded that Dooley had a number of very serious medical conditions that required both urgent and long-term treatment.