Nelson thief stole from foster mum on her birthday

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A THIEF who stole from his foster parents, who had looked after him for 16 years, has walked free from court.

Drug user Simon Lewis had stolen his foster mother’s mobile phone on her birthday and run up a £300 bill calling his girlfriend. He also helped himself to £110 from his foster father’s wallet while the victim was in the shower, Burnley Crown Court heard.

The hearing was told John and Sheila Cockshot, who are now grandparents, had taken Lewis in after his mother died when he was two. Lewis would spend time at weekends with his natural father who was said to be a long-term drug addict and was exposed to the criminal elements in Pendle.

Mr Cockshot had written the court what a judge described as a “careful and very fair” letter about the defendant, which was said to illustrate he had a number of redeeming features.

Recorder John Benson said he had taken it into account and had decided on a different course than the sentence he had at first had in mind. He gave Lewis 18 weeks in jail, suspended for two years, with 12 months supervision and a two-year restraining order, banning him from attending the Cockshots’ home in Marsden Hall Road, Nelson.

The judge told the defendant: “This was a particularly mean and nasty pattern of offending against people who will have dedicated a good measure of their lives to looking after you - and that is their reward.”

Lewis (22), of Lonsdale Street, Nelson, had admitted theft last October and burglary in January while he was on bail. He was subject to a suspended jail term for being concerned in the supply of and production of cannabis when he committed the theft but it had run out the day before the burglary.

Mr Stephen Parker (prosecuting) said the victims had fostered Lewis between the ages of two and 18. They would say they had had a number of problems with him in recent years and suspected items had been taken on previous occasions.

When the defendant was arrested after the burglary, he denied the allegation, said he had not been to the Cockshots’ house and had not stolen the money.

For Lewis, Mr Nick Dearing said he expressed remorse. He owed a great deal to the Cockshots, looked on them as his immediate family and was extremely disappointed with himself.

When he had been 18, the Cockshots had encouraged him to become independent. He had then mixed with people with substance misuse problems and used cocaine and cannabis.

Mr Dearing said Lewis, who had ADHD, had intended to borrow the phone for a short time. The defendant would recognise it was his “just deserts” if he was locked up.

The solicitor added Lewis seemed to be a young man who was determined to try to turn his life around. Mr Dearing added: “The Cockshots do still care about this young man.”