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Prolific Gillingham thief jailed for targetting vulnerable and elderly men

A prolific thief will serve more time in prison after targetting vulnerable and elderly men.

Jailed in October 2019 for robbing a pensioner in Gillingham High Street, Chloe Downey targeted two further victims just days after being released on licence in March this year.

Chloe Downey. Picture: Kent Police
Chloe Downey. Picture: Kent Police

Downey, 31, of no fixed abode, appeared today on videolink at the Nightingale courthouse, based at the Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel, where Recorder R Smith heard she had entered the homes of two men in Gillingham on March 18 and March 19, stealing cash on both occasions.

Prosecutor Kaj Scarsbrook told the court Downey - who admitted two counts of thefts at a previous hearing - had first gone to a retirement housing complex in Gillingham, and knocked on the door of James Johnstone.

My Johnstone 'knew her vaguely' said Mr Scarsbrook, and said Downey had gone into the property before picking up a bag of cash containing £15.

He added: "Mr Johnstone asked her to return the money but she denied she taken it before leaving the flat."

The next day she had gone to another house in Gillingham, the home of Raymond Collier, who had also met her before and seen her begging on the street.

Some time later the victim had realised £30 was missing from his house, and Downey was arrested the next day.

Defence barrister Eve George said there were "other details" involved in the offences, which would not be relayed to the court, but gave some mitigating circumstances, explaining the defendant's life had taken a turn for the worse when she started taking crack cocaine and subsequently lost custody her children through court proceedings.

A 'recovery officer' had reviewed her case and advised that when she is next released she would go to an approved premises and receive support.

She also explained her next release from custody is due to be in June next year.

Recorder R Smith noted that Downey had "35 prior convictions for 69 prior offences between 2004 and 2019, most notably 36 theft related offences."

He also added: "I find you did target the victims on the basis of their vulnerability" and noted the theft took place after her release from a sentence for a serious offence of robbery.

He sentenced her to 24 weeks in prison for each count, to be served concurrently.

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