Thief who tried to steal ashes of woman’s dead husband escapes jail

De La Cruz was sentenced at Sheriff Court for sexually assaulting two women
De La Cruz was sentenced at Sheriff Court for sexually assaulting two women

A THIEF who broke into an elderly widow’s home and attempted to steal her husband’s ashes has escaped a jail sentence.

Kevin Lever broke into the 82-year-old’s house in Edinburgh’s prestigious Grange area on July 13 through the back door.

The 43-year-old then bagged up a computer and an urn containing the ashes of the woman’s late husband.

But Lever was caught out after a 73-year-old neighbour, who had been looking after the Dalrymple Crescent home while the owner was away, spotted lights on in the house and ran in to confront the thief.

The OAP, who has not been identified, managed to tie Lever up with a belt during the incident to stop the thief escaping.

Lever returned to the dock at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday after pleading guilty to the break-in and theft during an appearance last month.

Sheriff Alison Stirling told Lever he had carried out a “despicable’ crime, but stopped short of jailing the thief.

Instead the sheriff handed out an 18-month drug treatment and testing order, which is designed to address Lever’s drug problems.

Previously fiscal depute Rachel Aedy told the court the 82-year-old female home owner was in a care home at the time of the offence and a neighbour was looking after the property while she was away.

Ms Aedy said the neighbour checked on the town house twice a day.

The OAP spotted lights on in an upstairs bedroom during his late-night check on July 13.

The fiscal said: “He saw some items out of place and the rear door was lying ajar and a glass panel had been smashed.

“He walked up the stairs and noticed two bags in the corridor – one containing a laptop and the other contained an ornamental urn, which contained the remains of the woman’s late husband.

“The man saw the accused and challenged him and said ‘are we going to fight?’.

“The accused appeared startled and the man took hold of the accused’s wrist and put his arm behind his back.

“The man then tied the accused’s wrists together behind his back with his belt and then phoned 999.”

Police arrived at the Dalrymple Crescent home shortly after and saw the burglar sitting on the stairs with his hands still tied together.

The court heard when officers entered the property they saw Lever had “a glove on one hand and a sock on the other”.

It was later discovered the thief had pocketed £30 from an envelope in the house as well as trying to steal the laptop and the urn containing the ashes.

Defence solicitor Ross Gardner previously said the way his client had reacted when confronted by the neighbour gave an indication of his state of mind.

Mr Gardner said Lever had contacted the Lothian Substance Abuse Service in an attempt to get psychological help.

It is believed the elderly homeowner was in a nearby care home for respite at the time of the break-in.

Her husband is believed to have passed away last year.

Neighbours in Dalrymple Crescent last month praised the 73-year-old for his actions.

“He’s a hero,” one said.