Woman jailed for causing death of ‘gentle and generous’ pensioner by heart attack after burgling his home

Family man Billy Jackson died from a heart attack after the stress of having his home burgled by the criminals.

A Washington woman who caused the death of a "kind, gentle and generous" pensioner by burgling his home has been jailed for 20 years. Billy Jackson suffered a heart attack just minutes after his property was burgled in September last year.

Sarah Daniel entered the home of the 71-year-old the evening of Friday, September 24 with a view to steal from the family man while co-defendant Leanne English waited outside. They – in the company of a third suspect who was cleared of any wrongdoing relating to Mr Jackson’s death – were then seen leaving the area together while their victim suffered a fatal heart attack due to the immediate stress he had faced.

Daniel, 34, denied manslaughter and conspiracy to commit burglary but was found guilty of both offences following a four-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court in April. She was also convicted of a further count of aggravated burglary and fraud relating to a separate incident against a different victim. English, 40, denied conspiracy to commit burglary but was found guilty of that offence, as well as a separate charge of common assault against a different victim. On Wednesday, November 9 at Crown Court, Daniel was jailed for a total of 20 years and English received a custodial term of five years and five months.

Following the hearing, Mr Jackson’s family issued a heartfelt statement. They said: “We have struggled to come to terms with what happened to Billy and that we have had to endure a trial. This has brought extra stress through this awful time. We hope as a family we can have justice and Billy can finally rest in peace. Our whole world from that Saturday morning turned completely upside down.

“Billy was such a kind, gentle generous man. He was a very old-school man who would go out of his way to help and do what he could for anyone. To think that someone had hurt him makes us feel physically sick to the stomach and absolutely broken.

“As a family we know it wasn’t Billy’s time to go, he should have passed peacefully in his favourite chair just how he always wanted to. We have been robbed of the many years, memories and precious time as a family together.”

Detective Sergeant Steve Brown, of Northumbria Police, praised the family for their “amazing bravery, strength and resolve” shown throughout the last 14 months.

He said: “No sentence today could have taken away the pain and anguish felt by Mr Jackson’s loved ones. They should be incredibly proud of the way they have held themselves, showing such amazing bravery, strength and resolve throughout, as the full facts of this case were laid out during an extensive trial. I am pleased that both Daniel and English have both been convicted for their parts in Mr Jackson’s death, and I sincerely hope today can offer his family some comfort.

“Billy was a vulnerable man who should have been safe inside his home. Instead, he was preyed upon by two women who wanted to burgle him – all for some tobacco and cigarettes. As a Force, we are committed to securing effective justice against anybody who targets the vulnerable in our communities, and will continue to use every single tactic at our disposal to ensure perpetrators have their day in court.”

Billy Jackson was a “gentle and generous” family man (Image: Northumbria Police)

A third defendant – David Bulmer, 20, of Bramston Way, Washington – was found not guilty of both manslaughter and conspiracy to commit burglary relating to Mr Jackson by a jury. Bulmer and Daniel were each found guilty of a count of aggravated burglary against a different victim which happened one week before Mr Jackson’s death.

The court heard that on the evening of September 17 last year, Bulmer and Daniel forced their way into the victim’s address, assaulted him with a baseball bat and stole cash, a mobile phone and a bank card. Daniel was also convicted of fraud and English convicted of common assault relating to crimes against the same victim a few months prior, on June 18, when they stole his wallet and later used a card to withdraw cash on two separate occasions.