Cambridge

A woman who blew £250,000 in 14 months is now behind bars for theft

A Cambridge woman who blew £250,000 in 14 months is now behind bars for theft.

Lorna Webb, of no fixed abode, has been jailed for five months after she stole meat from a supermarket.

Webb previously told Cambridgeshire Live how she went from having a job and owning two Cambridge properties to living on the streets and spending her inheritance on drugs and booze.

City magistrates heard how the 48-year-old stole meat from the Co-op in Mill Road on October 20.

She had attempted to steal from the shop the previous day and tried again 10 days later.

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Webb was already wanted for failing to appear for racially aggravated harassment and was sentenced on Friday, November 9 after pleading guilty to three counts of theft from a shop.

Webb was a noticeable figure on Mill Road among the other rough sleepers who gather there daily.

The mother of two daughters was caught up in addiction and resorted to shoplifting, but she was once flush with cash thanks to an inheritance.

She said she was spending almost £18,000 a month on drugs or £600 a day.

Court career

But Lorna has been through the courts over the years.

In March 2012 armed police were called in after she was seen carrying a knife by an ambulance crew.

She was jailed for eight months after Cambridge Crown Court heard she had armed herself for protection before a confrontation with another woman in Mill Road.

Webb had previously admitted possessing a bladed article and using threatening behaviour and had been sent to Crown court for sentence by magistrates.

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Mr Justice Andrew Nicol told her: “These offences were so serious only a custodial sentence can follow.”

Claire Matthews, prosecuting, said: “The ambulance crew contacted police about an incident in Mill Road following reports that a female was acting in a disruptive manner whilst in possession of a knife.”

She said the police tactical firearms unit was called to the incident, which happened at about 7pm.

Miss Matthews told the court that Lorna had dropped the small kitchen knife down a drain, saying: “The defendant was located nearby and was arrested at the scene. She quickly became abusive to the police.”

She said Lorna admitted possessing the knife and said she had taken it with her for her own protection in a confrontation with another woman.

Defence lawyer Caroline Allison said her client, who had drink and drug problems, had been staying with friends when she heard the other woman was looking for her.

She said: “Miss Webb accepts she made the decision to leave the flat and take the knife with her which was a bad decision.

“At the time she was very concerned about the person saying they were looking for her.

“She was in fear and did not intend to use the knife, but to ensure people backed off.”

Miss Allison said Lorna had a troubled background and urged a sentence with supervision which would benefit both her client and the community.

And in 2009 Webb was ordered to pay a £35 fine by Cambridge magistrates after pleading guilty of using threatening words and behaviour.

Then living in New Cheveley Road, Newmarket, Lorna was arrested on September 8 after an incident which saw her threaten a shop owner in Mill Road and police officers who attempted to talk to her about the situation.

She shouted at the officers and the shop owner, accusing them of sexually assaulting a relative as well as calling one of the police officers "fat boy".

Along with the fine, magistrates ordered Webb to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £15 costs.

Early years

Lorna Webb

The shoplifter's early childhood is confused.

She previously told Cambridgeshire Live: "I was adopted and brought up in Bury St Edmunds and ended up in Cheveley. I have two sets of parents, it's a bit hard to explain. I think I was adopted back to my original family. It's a bit like deja-vu going back in time and everything.

"Six months after being adopted, my mother, Pat, sent me back to my real parents. So within six months I have gone between two sets of parents.

"I was about 16 when I left home.

"I was 19 when I first came to Cambridge and then settled here when I had my children at about 21.

"Before then I was a chambermaid and worked for Wolfson College. I also worked in a baker's which was shortlived. In hindsight I wish I had've kept that job as I wouldn't mind being a baker.

"So, I pretty much worked in catering, worked at Tattersalls on the racecourses."

Lorna's legacy

Lorna has daughters and spoke of them fondly.

She said: "I have two daughters. I had my first daughter, Sasha, at 21 or 22 and my other daughter Faith when I got married at 30, eight years later.

"I split up with my husband, and I have no idea where he is now. I really have not got a clue."

She was to inherit the quarter of a million pounds from her adoptive father but she had already dabbled in drugs.

His home was sold, against Lorna's wishes, and the money left to the family.

Breakdown

Lorna believes she was suffering a 'nervous breakdown'.

She said: "I had £250,000 inheritance which was spent in 14 months. It was from my adoptive family but I believe he was going through hell.

"I didn't even want the property to go as I was saying that the land is worth more. The property was on the outskirts of Newmarket. I haven't got a clue what it sold for.

"The property was sold when I had my breakdown so it would have been a couple of years after that. Someone kept saying that I was going to get something."

Spend, spend, spend

Lorna started to spend.

She said: "When I got the money I was living locally, staying round friends and everything.

"My mates are all addicts so there was no way that I was going to leave them without.

"If I could have balanced it a bit more I would have done something with it. I am glad the money went to the area. The dollar has got invested. I don't mean any disrespect to my family.

"I lost a lot of weight and had a nervous breakdown. The heroin stopped me eating.

"It's very painful when you put weight back on your body and then you lose it. When you have a nervous breakdown it is very painful to your body."

Regrets

Lorna admitted her regret in not giving more of the money to her daughters.

She said: "I guess I bought a few little bits and pieces – some jewellery. I bought both my girls some school kits. I love my girls. I have heard that they are doing really well. I hope so. I haven't seen them.

"I don't know if that was my daughter that I waved to the other day. I am not sure where they are. I would just like to see that they are safe. Sasha will be coming up to her mid-twenties and Faith eight years behind.

"They are both firing on all cylinders. They have all their pistons."

Friendship and loss

Lorna spoke of her life on the street and the camaraderie she felt with other rough sleepers.

And she told of how many of her pals had been lost to drugs and violence.

She said: "It's not too bad on the street. We have a good crew around and we all look out for each other. Everyone has their own situation but no one will let anyone down.

"We've all got each others backs here. We've just lost some friends recently, but there's no way anyone is going to go unnoticed. No chance. That's not happening."

Lorna also knew Peter Anderson, also known as Blue, who died from multiple stab wounds after being attacked on Stourbridge Common on July 25.

Two London men have been charged with murder.

Lorna said Blue was a gentle man and was shocked when she learned he had died.

She added: "I knew Blue. It is surreal to me like it hasn't happened. It's just surreal. I don't get it."

Trouble in Mill Road

(Image: Duncan Lamont)

And she spoke of the trouble in Mill Road and how traders wanted to clean up the area.

She said: "I score here but I've not noticed much trouble. It's probably other people getting involved and other people coming down here if the truth be known.

"I know people locally and there are things that they go through. But I think it's other people getting involved."

Asked if she would have done things differently, she said: "I had wanted to bless my children. I wanted something for them."

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Homelessness in Cambridge

Volunteer to help the homeless in Cambridge

Cambridge Homeless Outreach Project (CHOP)

The Cambridge Homeless Outreach Programme (CHOP) provides students with opportunities to fundraise and help the homeless community in the city.

CHOP uses college representatives and is always interested in gaining more volunteers. It also does a range of campaigning and volunteering.

To get involved, get in touch via Facebook.

Cambridge Streetbite

Streetbite aims to do something practical to help homeless people in Cambridge. Its main activity consists of preparing and distributing food and drinks to those on the streets, alongside taking time to develop relationships with the homeless community through chatting.

It is located at St Columba's United Reformed Church on Downing Street and runs morning, afternoon and evening shifts

In order to get involved and have a chance to connect with homeless people in Cambridge on a personal level, visit Streetbite's Facebook page.

Hiraeth

The Hiraeth project aims to provide a platform for literary expression, through creating a network of support including those who want to write that are experiencing homelessness in any form.

Hiraeth plans to produce a small publication, in which participants can share their work with the wider Cambridge community. The publication hopes to counter stereotypical perceptions of Cambridge and who belongs to it, by reflecting the rich diversity of the people who live here.

They are frequently looking for committee members and/or those whod like to help out on a more casual basis. To get involved, go to the website.

Just Love

Just Love is a community of Christian students in Cambridge focused on social justice issues.

It regularly runs events and programmes focused on helping Cambridges homeless, including working together with Jimmys and WinterComfort. To find out more, contact its Facebook page.

Jimmys Cambridge

Jimmys is the only emergency accommodation provider in Cambridge, open all year round. It also works to help its guests address any difficulties they may be having, gain new skills and take control of their lives, so they can move off the streets and into longer-term accommodation.

Volunteers can sign up to volunteer with Jimmys, particularly for an evening shift of only a couple hours (flexible timing) helping serve evening meals. Contact ros@jimmyscambridge.org.uk.

WinterComfort

WinterComfort offers daily vital welfare services and opportunities for learning and training.

Volunteering is always useful, especially if people can commit to regular hours, and short term projects come up from time to time. Contact volunteering@wintercomfort.org.uk.

Cambridge Cyrenians

Cambridge Cyrenians provides a range of accommodation, support and specialist services for homeless people. Cambridge Cyrenians offers small shared houses where residents are encouraged to take responsibility for their own lives.

The organisation can always make use of willing volunteers, particularly to take on a current project to raise money for, purchase and put up pictures in their houses.

YMCA Cambridge & Peterborough

YMCA Cambridgeshire & Peterborough is a Christian Charity working to enable people (especially young people), to grow to their full potential by participating in a supportive and inclusive society. Part of its work is focused on tackling homelessness.

YMCA can be contacted through Facebook, or email: verity.swinscoe@theymca.org.uk.

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