"Despicable" - Burglar posed as policeman to steal from dying man's home in Sea Mills, Bristol
A "DESPICABLE" burglar posed as a police officer to trick his way into the house of a man dying of cancer before stealing presents bought for a family friend.
Robert Kolwicz, 63, had not long returned home from treatment at hospital when he answered the door to Ross Madden.
Madden claimed to be a police officer and said he needed to search the flat on Woodend Walk, Sea Mills, because he was investigating money laundering.
Mr Kolwicz, a retired lorry driver, let Madden in. The 21-year-old searched both bedrooms before saying he couldn't find anything.
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An hour after he left, Mr Kolwicz realised a laptop computer and an iPod had been stolen from his spare room. The theft took place on December 14 and the grandad-of-three had been planning to give the Christmas gifts to a close family friend who often visited him.
After the raid, his health and state of mind deteriorated and he had to spend what is likely to be his last Christmas Day – also his birthday – back in the Bristol Royal Infirmary.
Mr Kolwicz's son Nathan said: "A crime is a crime, but for someone to do something like this – I wouldn't wish it on anybody. If he'd burgled a warehouse belonging to a multimillion pound company that's one thing, but to target a vulnerable pensioner with cancer is terrible.
"Dad had not long come home from hospital when it happened. The burglary really knocked him back. He lasted about ten days before he was back at the BRI and after that he didn't want to go back home. He's now in a care home in Winterbourne."
The 31-year-old, of Chipping Sodbury, added: "The burglary made him a nervous wreck and he was ringing me at three or four in the morning, worried."
Mr Kolwicz couldn't afford to replace the Christmas presents stolen by Madden, 21, of Vincent Close, Lawrence Weston.
Madden was identified from a fingerprint that scenes of crimes experts recovered from Mr Kolwicz's front door. As he was known to the police and had previous convictions for raiding people's homes, he was arrested on December 19 and charged with burglary.
In police interview, Madden claimed he had gone to Woodend Walk with a friend who wanted to go to his granddad's flat.
He claimed it was his friend who searched the rooms before handing him a bag containing a computer.
However, by the time the case came to Bristol Crown Court, with no evidence that anyone else had been with Madden that day, he admitted the charge and was sentenced to two years and 146 days in prison by Judge Julian Lambert.
DC Kai Hannan, of Avon and Somerset police's dedicated Doorstep Crime Team, said: "This really was a despicable crime. Ross Madden targeted and preyed on an elderly and vulnerable man.
"The notion that someone would not know that Mr Kolwicz was ill, given his current condition, is simply not true."