A father-of-two stole jewellery from his partner’s mother before selling it to a cash-for-gold shop.
Stephen Plumridge, 32, claimed he bought the items in good faith off three men and ‘unwittingly’ sold them to Emerald Aisle Jewellers, Lancaster.
But he was found guilty of stealing 9ct rings, necklaces, chains, bracelets and watches, from Carolyn Loxam’s Crag Bank Road, Carnforth, home.
Plumridge took the items on occasions when he looked after the property with his then partner of ten years Tracey Loxam - the mother of his two and five-year-old sons - while her parents were on holiday earlier this year. He sold them for £451, but Mrs Loxam said they were worth £4,000.
“It’s had a huge impact on the family; we trusted him,” she told the Guardian.
Lancaster magistrates heard Mrs Loxam noticed several jewellery items had been stolen after a holiday in May.
She later spotted one of her gold rings – originally her mother’s - in the window of the shop and contacted police.
In June, Mrs Loxam’s husband Peter, who bought her some of the jewellery, died unexpectedly, compounding the family’s heartache.
The collection was built up over a lifetime and passed down generations of family.
Plumridge, now of Crossfield Road, Risborough, Buckinghamshire, told the court he was at the Loxams’ home alone in January refurbishing alloy wheels where he was visited by three men who were interested in buying the wheels.
He said he allowed one of them to use the toilet at the house and the men left without buying the alloys. He said they phoned him two weeks later offering him jewellery for sale, which he bought.
The shop owner told police Plumridge brought in the ring and other jewellery to sell on February 7. He was later arrested. Plumridge told the court that at that point he did not know Mrs Loxam had jewellery missing.
He said when he asked the men whether the items they sold him were stolen they threatened to throw battery acid at his children if their names were given to police.
Nigel Harrison, prosecuting, said Plumridge had made up a ‘cock and bull’ story and magistrates described his version of events as ‘fanciful’, taking 15 minutes to find him guilty after a two-hour trial.
Plumridge, on a suspended prison sentence at the time of the theft, raised his eyebrows as he was told he would be sentenced on October 7.
Bar the ring, the stolen items are still outstanding.