'Gutted': My best friend of 20 years burgled my house, took my son's phone and even tried to drive off in my car

Gemma West is now pregnantGemma West is now pregnant
Gemma West is now pregnant | Gemma West.
Woman devastated to find out that her best friend, who she had supported for 20 years, was the burglar captured on CCTV raiding her home.

A burglar who raided the home of her best friend has kept her freedom. Gemma West was caught on a neighbour's CCTV system leaving the woman's home in Sunderland with a holdall full of stolen property and trying to take her car, which fortunately would not start. Newcastle Crown Court heard when the victim viewed the footage and realised the identity of the raider she was "gutted". She lost personal possessions including shoes, an iphone she had bought for her son's birthday and a ring belonging to her mother.

Gemma West.Gemma West.
Gemma West. | Gemma West.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court the victim was out when West let herself into the property through an unlocked door on August 29 last year. Mr Wardlaw said: "CCTV footage from a neighbouring address showed the defendant, who the complainant had known for 20 years and used to be her best friend and who she had given money to buy a vape a few weeks earlier, enter the rear garden and disappear from view. She reappeared and walked to the car, which she tried to start using keys she had stolen but the car wouldn't start. The defendant returned to the address and 15 minutes later walked away with a holdall." Mr Wardlaw said the holdall contained the new iphone, three pairs of shoes, jewellery and a belt. The court heard when the police were informed and West was confronted she confessed "I did it". The victim said in an impact statement she was "angry" and added: "I am gutted she has done this to me. My family have always supported her in any way they can since being young". West, 34, of Somerset Square, Sunderland, pleaded guilty to burglary. Jane Foley, defending, said West was heavily intoxicated and knows "she's clearly gone too far". Miss Foley said West, who is now pregnant, was addicted to valium at the time but has since sought help and assistance to stop taking drugs and manage her mental health problems. She added: "She accepts this is really quite a mean offence committed against a person that had always assisted her." Judge Robert Spragg told West: "She is gutted you have done this. Her and her family have always supported you with your many difficulties." West was sentenced to 12 months, suspended for 18 months, with programme and rehabilitation requirements. The judge said West is can be managed in the community and has a realistic prospect of rehabilitation.

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