Horse groom Nicola Mitchell burgled love rival's home
Maidstone Crown Court,
where Mitchell's case was heard
A horse groom burgled a love rival's flat and then tried to
blame her son.
Nicola Mitchell, who works with polo ponies, targeted the
Rochester home of Paula Bryce when she believed Ms Bryce was in a
relationship with her former partner.
Maidstone Crown Court heard the 50-year-old mother-of-three
stole electrical equipment, keys, a passport and jewellery before
turning on bath and sink taps.
Fortunately, another resident alerted Ms Bryce, who was also the
property manager at the building in Vicarage Road, that there was
no water and she returned before further damage could be
Mitchell, of Bottle Lane, Hook in Hampshire, had been visiting a
friend at the building on April 23 last year when she targeted Ms
Bryce's home, getting in through an open window.
She was arrested after traces of DNA were found which linked her
to the break-in.
However, she denied involvement, claiming any forensic evidence
may have been left by her when she helped her ex-boyfriend, who
owned the block of flats, to decorate.
She initially pleaded not guilty at court to an offence of
burglary but then admitted the charge on the day her trial had been
due to start.
Imposing a jail term of 21 months suspended for two years,
Recorder Gordon Reed said: "You knew the occupant of the
"You had been in a relationship with the owner of the block of
flats and I accept that had ended in a way that was distressing for
"I am told you understood he had subsequently started a
relationship with the occupier of this flat. That, of course,
cannot come anywhere near excusing your conduct."
He added that the fact she had tried to blame her son for the
break-in was a "worrying aspect" but accepted she may have carried
out the burglary on impulse.
As part of her sentence Mitchell must carry out 150 hours unpaid
work and pay court costs of £1,500 at a rate of £120 a month.
Crispian Cartwright, prosecuting, said the only item
recovered by police was a laptop. Missing goods, including what was
described as a family heirloom of great sentimental value, total
"Drawers had been pulled out and there was a fair degree of
mess," he added. "Taps were also turned on and the plugs put in the
sink and bath."
Ms Bryce also had to pay more than £600 to have locks changed on
both her flat and her car.
Ian Dear, defending, told the court Mitchell was not a woman
"desperately casting around to blame others".
Remarking that there was an element of a love triangle about the
case, he added: "Perhaps it could be placed into the explanation of
'hell hath no fury'."
The court was told that Miss Bryce had been traumatised and left
feeling paranoid by the break-in.
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