Wedding ring thief Steven Kerr .
A DRUG user who stole the wedding ring from the finger of a terminally ill 87-year-old woman has had his jail term cut on appeal.
Steven George Kerr, 36, broke into his neighbour Nellie Holliday’s home in the early hours of the morning when she was in bed and grabbed her ring and a gold chain from around her neck.
Kerr, of Highfield Crescent in Barlby, Selby, was jailed for 14 years at York Crown Court in May, by when his victim had died from breast cancer.
He was convicted of robbery and admitted burglary and two drugs offences.
Yesterday, Lord Justice Toulson, Mr Justice Langstaff and Judge Anthony Morris QC, at London’s Criminal Appeal Court, cut his sentence by two years but the decision was condemned locally.
Coun Stephanie Duckett, who lived near Mrs Holliday, said: “They ought to have thought how they would have felt if it had been their mum laid there, terminally ill, having jewellery ripped off her neck and fingers by a near neighbour she knew and trusted. How would they feel? I suppose it [14 years] does seem like a long time, but really it’s just so abhorrent what he did, it really is. I’m not saying it caused Nellie to go, but it certainly didn’t help.”
Coun Duckett also said Kerr had robbed Mrs Holliday of her right to die peacefully in her own home and said: “It really sticks in the craw of any decent-minded person, what he did to that lovely old lady.”
He said Mrs Holliday had told her she couldn’t face going home and said: “Nobody should feel like that.”
Kerr lived two houses from his victim and had done gardening for her a few months before the “cowardly” robbery on March 9, 2011.
Mrs Holliday had only a few months left to live.
She also suffered from high blood pressure and anaemia and was hard of hearing.
Kerr, wearing a balaclava, broke into her home at 2.30am. The victim was in her bed downstairs, too frail to go upstairs, and Kerr stole her jewellery from her before walking calmly away without speaking.
Mrs Holliday frantically called for help using an alert service in her home and Kerr was tracked to his house by a police dog.
Kerr, who has been a drug user for 20 years, carried out the robbery while on bail for offences of supplying class-C drugs and allowing his house to be used for the supply of heroin.
After being released on bail for the robbery he burgled a house and stole a watch.
Lawyers for Kerr yesterday argued the robbery sentence was too long and the total term too high.
Lord Justice Toulson agreed the sentence was too harsh and allowed the appeal, reducing Kerr’s total term to 12 years.
He will serve half before qualifying for automatic release.