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Victim now ready to resume his life again
THE victim of a prolific distraction burglar said he hopes to get on with his life now she has been put behind bars.
Janet Lestrade, 43, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for stealing 100 euros and a purse from 63-year-old Terry Andersohn.
Lestrade, of Balfour Road in Blackbird Leys, has stolen money from vulnerable people on a total of 18 separate occasions since the 1990s.
She was found guilty of one count of burglary after a trial in December and sentenced at Oxford Crown Court on Thursday. Mr Andersohn, an artist, said: “I do not like to see people locked up but they have to pay the price for what they do.
“There must be a reason why this woman is the way she is. There must be some problem with her and she will need help.
“I try to see the best in people but I was not happy with what she did. I do not like being taken advantage of.”
He said she conned her way into his house in Trefoil Place, Blackbird Leys, in July by acting as if she knew him and asking to see his paintings.
Her excuse, that he had given her money to buy brandy, unravelled when police later stopped her with shopping bags full of beer, cider, chocolate and tobacco.
Mr Andersohn said he was “devastated” when he discovered Lestrade had taken his money and purse, saying: “I found myself being made a fool of.”
He added: “I am glad it is now over. Maybe I can resume my life because the last month has put me on edge.
“I have not been able to do my painting because I cannot concentrate and my hands shake.”
The court was told Mr Andersohn lived alone and suffers from cerebral malaria, asthma, and has a heart condition.
During sentencing, prosecuting barrister Merrick Williams said Lestrade had a “substantial record of offending” dating back to 1989.
The court heard she has overcome a problem with drugs and Anthony McGeorge, defending, said she had not used alcohol for six months.
He added: “Clearly she is bound to receive a sentence of immediate imprisonment but it may be that she really is at a crossroads in her life.
“It seems she has derived an enormous amount of benefit from the period she has already spent in prison.”
He said Lestrade, who is a grandmother, was a “valuable” member of the prison’s education team and is on the waiting list for a victim awareness course.
Judge Gordon Risius said: “You are plainly a serial deception burglar and the public, and particularly the vulnerable, are entitled to look to the courts for protection from people like you.”
Oxford Crown Court heard that Lestrade’s first conviction was for shoplifting and theft in 1989, when she was 20.
Since the 1990s, she has lied her way into vulnerable people’s homes to steal money on 18 occasions.
Most of these happened in the Blackbird Leys area and included a man in a wheelchair and a widower who handed over his life savings.
An 83-year-old Oxford pensioner died just days after Lestrade conned him out of his pension.
She has been sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison since 1996, the court was told.