A bitter ex-boyfriend who sent ‘torturing’ text messages to his former partner after stealing irreplaceable jewellery worth £6,000 from her home has been spared jail.
Dean Winchester’s ex-girlfriend was left devastated by the theft, which included taking the only material link she had with her mum, Worthing Magistrates’ Court heard yesterday.
The Bognor man also betrayed a pub owner who gave him a job, stealing £1,598.20 of takings that he was meant to take to the bank.
Winchester, 30, from Bassett Road, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft last month, and appeared yesterday for sentencing.
Prosecutor Gaynor Byng told the court yesterday: “They had been in an on and off relationship for two-and-a-half years which came to an end.
“She discovered that her jewellery box was missing from her bedroom. She suspected Mr Winchester.
He has been torturing me mentally with text messages about what he has done to me.The owner of the stolen jewellery
“She texts Mr Winchester to ask him about where her jewellery was.”
The court was previously told that Winchester replied saying ‘now you know how it feels’ and ‘yes I did take your jewellery box’ and swore.
Among the roughly £6,000 of stolen jewellery were several irreplaceable items with sentimental value, including the victim’s only material link with her birth mother.
An impact statement from the time was read out yesterday. In it, the victim said: “I still cry all the time about the loss of my jewellery which meant so much to me.
“I will never trust anyone again.
“He has been torturing me mentally with text messages about what he has done to me.
“This is all the doing of someone who I thought was a nice person.”
Since the theft, which happened between May 31 and June 24 this year, a portion of the jewellery has been recovered from a pawn shop in Worthing, the court heard.
After the break up, Winchester moved to Lincoln and committed another offence.
The prosecutor told the court yesterday that a bar where he frequently drank gave him a job as bar staff.
One day he was asked to take the previous day’s takings to the bank and deposit it.
Miss Byng said: “He left and headed towards the bank with cash but he did not return to the pub.
“He then simply disappeared.”
Police later caught up with him and he provided a full admission of guilt in respect of the theft from the pub.
Miss Byng added: “He told officers that he was an alcoholic and spent the money funding his drinking habit.“
She said his crimes caused ‘significant emotional distress’ and suggested that he be sent to Crown Court for sentencing, where judges can hand out greater punishments.
Josie Sonnessa, defending, said Winchester, who struggles with alcohol, knew he had to take responsibility for his actions.
She added: “When he is not drinking to excess he is someone who is law abiding.
“You could suspend a significant sentence for someone who has no experience of custody.
“This is very much the beginning for him but the reality is if he were to lose his liberty today he would lose his job, he would lose his accommodation.”
She added that he had not had any alcohol for 35 days and his priority was to get back into work so he could begin to pay compensation to his victims.
Sentencing Winchester, chairman of the magistrates Miles Clarke said: “These matters are so serious that they can only be dealt with by way of custody.
“However they will be suspended.”
Winchester was given two 26-week jail sentences, to be served concurrently and suspended for two years.
He was also ordered to pay the first woman £5,000 for the jewellery, and the pub owner £1,598.20.
He must pay £310 to the pawn shop he had sold some of the jewellery to, a victim surcharge of £115 and prosecution costs of £770.
Winchester was also ordered to undertake 25 rehabilitation days.