Shocked widow finds drunken sailor asleep in her Bideford home

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant

Exeter Crown Court. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A drunken sailor has been jailed for breaking into a widow’s home in the middle of the night before cooking himself breakfast and falling asleep in her front room. 

The horrified 87-year-old thought she had left the oven on when she woke up to smell cooking but instead found trawler skipper Christopher Sylvester asleep on the floor.  

She fled the house and took refuge with a neighbour and police arrived to find the intruder still asleep and so drunk that he had wet himself and ruined the living room carpet. 

He had no memory of breaking in through the kitchen door or of cooking and eating breakfast and a banana. He blamed a mixture of alcohol and ‘bad valium’ for the break in in Bideford, North Devon. 

Sylvester, aged 44, of Port Isaac, Cornwall, admitted burglary and was jailed for ten months and ordered to pay £700 compensation by Recorder Mr Roger Harris at Exeter Crown Court. 


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He told him: “The victim was not harmed physically but understandably she was extremely scared and frightened by what happened. She was at home at the time of the burglary and there was soiling of her property.” 

Mr Gareth Evans, prosecuting, said the woman was alone in the house where she had lived for more than 60 years in Bideford when she woke to smell cooking or burning at 6.30 am on September 5 last year. 

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He said: “She thought she must have left something on the cooker and went downstairs where she discovered a male sleeping on the floor. 

“She was very scared and immediately left the property to seek help from a neighbour. The police found the defendant still asleep. He had to be roused by officers and such was his level of intoxication that he had soiled himself.” 

Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Sylvester was trying to find food and shelter and had no intention of stealing anything other than what he ate. 

He said he is a trawlerman who is in the process of selling his boat so he can start afresh and tackle an alcohol problem while working as a forester. 

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