Woman Steals from Elderly to Fund Drug Habit

A drug addiction can cause heartache to not only the addict, but his or her family as well. Family’s often despair when faced with the prospect of watching their addicted loved ones descend deeper and deeper into addiction, knowing that there is little they can do about it. Once the grip of addiction takes hold, individuals will do almost anything to obtain their next ‘fix’, often not caring about those getting hurt in the crossfire. However, what about when those hurt are innocent victims, not even known to the addict? This is exactly what happened to three elderly ladies who were victims of theft by Michelle Jewell as she desperately tried to obtain money to pay for her drugs of choice.

Despicable Crimes

A judge at Portsmouth Crown Court branded Jewell ‘despicable’ after her crimes were uncovered and she was sent to trial. Handing 35-year-old Jewell a three year and eight month sentence, Judge Robert Hill told how her that the crimes she committed were ‘despicable’.

The court heard how the first victim, Ms Vera Hampshire, 78, was targeted as she waited in a Fratton Road pharmacy in July this year. Jewell was seen on CCTV stealing Ms Hampshire’s purse from her bag. Once she had the purse, she used the pension card within to steal Ms Hampshire’s pension. It was not immediately apparent that the purse had been stolen; it was not until Ms Hampshire realised that her purse was missing that CCTV was checked and Jewell’s crime was uncovered.

Jewell was back to her old tricks just two weeks later, committing a similar crime in a Waitrose store, at which she helped herself to the purse and keys of her second victim, Ms Margaret Prendergast-Comber, 84. Again, the crime was confirmed by CCTV footage. With the keys in her possession, Jewell made her way to the sheltered housing at which Ms Prendergast-Comber lived in Southsea. Once there, she took jewellery worth £3,325. The earrings, string of pearls, gold necklace, and broach were never returned to the victim.

While at the sheltered housing, Jewell targeted another elderly victim, Edith Gardener, 91. She knocked at the woman’s door, pretending to deliver a parcel. Upon entering the flat, she said she had to go downstairs to get the parcel but, upon leaving the premises, she stole a bag that had approximately £250 in it.

Drugs to Blame

The reason for the crimes was that Jewell ‘needed’ the money to fund her drug habit. However, the judge in the case felt a prison sentence was the appropriate punishment for such heinous crimes against vulnerable members of society. He said, “You have a dreadful record of dishonesty.” Unfortunately, this is something that many drug addicts can be accused of. They are consumed by their need for the drug they are addicted to and will lie and cheat to ensure they obtain it. Drugs can destroy the affected person and those around them; however, there is help out there for those who want it.

Addiction Helper is a free and confidential website from which those affected by drug addiction can seek help. We have a team of experts ready to take your call and offer encouragement and advice to those who require it. It is better to get help sooner rather than later to avoid resorting to crime to fund addiction. For some addicted individuals such as Michelle Jewell this is too late and they will have to pay for their crimes. Do not let this happen to you. Contact us right now for help on getting your life back on track.


  1. https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/local/despicable-portsmouth-thief-jailed-for-stealing-from-elderly-women-1-6450255
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