HEARTLESS burglars smashed their way into a young widow’s home as she went to visit relatives for the first time since her husband’s death.

Bolton Crown Court heard how Nishat Akbar had visited her husband’s grave every day following his death, at a young age, just months before the burglary at their Lostock home on September 2.

But at the end of August the widow, who had young children, decided to visit relatives in Sheffield.

Michael Blakey, prosecuting, told how, while there, she received a call from her security company to say there had been a power outage and then another message informing her that the alarm had been triggered.

Police who were called found the electric gates to the property ajar and spotted 49-year-old Mark Johnson hiding behind a car.

He was arrested and property which had been stolen from the house, was on him.

Officers then spotted Simon Davies lying face down under a bush .

A trail of footprints was found inside the house leading from a patio door and Mrs Akbar returned home.

“She was extremely distressed,” said Mr Blakey. “She was concerned that the burglars had taken sentimental property belonging to her husband and indeed they had.”

The electricity mains wires had been pulled out, six internal doors had been smashed and all the bedrooms including those used by her two children, had been ransacked.

“Drawers had been pulled out and a number of jewellery boxes had been emptied and were lying on the floor,” said Mr Blakey.

The stolen items, worth around £10,000, were recovered, including a £5,100 Tag Heuer watch belonging to the late Mr Akbar, which Davies initially tried to claim belonged to him.

Davies, aged 47, of Portugal Street, Bolton, and Johnson, of Duke Street, Bolton, both pleaded guilty to burglary.

In a victim statement Mrs Akbar told how she had been devastated by the burglary, especially after the death of her husband.

“He was so young and we had out whole lives together,” she said.

“I have remained in Bolton as I haven’t wanted to leave as I go to my husband’s grave every day.

“This was the first time I had built up the confidence to leave Bolton and visit my family for a few days. The fact that this break-in occurred whilst I was away has devastated me and the fact that my husband’s property had been taken is something that will stay with me forever.”

Nicholas Ross, defending, said Davies, who has a lengthy criminal record, had checked there was no one at the property before burgling it and was not aware of the family’s tragedy. “He very much wishes me to express his real and very genuine remorse. Once he found out the circumstances of the victim he felt, as he should do, profoundly guilty,” said Mr Ross

He added that Davies, who committed his first burglary aged just 12, had also suffered tragedy with his wife dying four years ago.

Judge Graeme Smith sentenced him to 40 months in prison and told him: “It has been said on your behalf that you showed real and genuine remorse once you found out about the personal circumstances of Nishat Akbar.

“The problem is, when you embark on a burglary, you take a chance. You are invading the property of someone you don’t know.”

Davies’ accomplice, Johnson, is isolating and his sentence was adjourned until November 30.