Men raided house 
of fire death victim

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BURGLARS deliberately targeted an empty house where a Spalding woman died in a fire and flooded the house solely to cash in on the scrap value of a copper hot water tank.

Jamie Hill (30) was caught because he left traces of blood at the scene and police tracked him through DNA profiling.

June Buffham died aged 71 at her Stonegate home on April 15.

Hill – who has refused to name his accomplice – broke in late at night on May 10 after the story of Mrs Buffham’s tragic death appeared in the local press.

Jim Clare, prosecuting, told Spalding magistrates on Thursday the raid caused thousands of pounds of damage and delayed the return of Mrs Buffham’s widower, Peter, to the family home.

Mr Buffham was too upset to give a victim personal statement after the break-in, but Mr Clare read a statement from the Buffhams’ daughter, Julie Grant.

Mrs Grant said the fire had been reported in the local paper and it was common knowledge that lives had been ruined by it.

She said: “I am disgusted that someone has taken advantage of what was already a most distressing situation.”

Words could not describe what she felt about someone who would cause such pain for the sake of the scrap value of a hot water tank.

She added: “I can only say that I hold him in the lowest regard.”

Hill, of Medlock Crescent, Spalding, pleaded guilty to burglary and theft of a copper hot water cylinder.

Magistrates sent him to Lincoln Crown Court for sentence because the higher court can impose prison terms longer than six months.

Mr Clare said the burglary happened at 10.30pm but neighbours who saw torchlight at the rear of the property didn’t report it at the time.

The break-in was discovered the next afternoon by Mrs Grant.

Mr Clare said the family had to install drying machines in the house for three weeks because of the water damage.

He said Hill admitted “personal knowledge” of the fire because he read about it in the paper.

Mr Clare said Hill had previous convictions for burglary.

Solicitor Mike Alexander said Hill regretted his actions and had made full admissions.

He said: “I accept that the custody threshold has probably been crossed.”