A79-YEAR-OLD deaf and blind woman described how two burglars “ruined her life” by ransacking her home as she slept upstairs, before using her phone to call a taxi.

Violet Raybone has lived in a cottage near Blackwood since she was two years old, but is now looking to move, saying she no longer feels safe.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Dean Nicholls, 34, of South Street, Bargoed, and Daniel Hughes, 25, of High Street, Fleur-de-Lys, broke in and took items including a brooch that had been in Mrs Raybone’s family since 1840, and her only photographs of her mother and grandmother.

Before they were both sentenced to three years in prison after admitting burglary, a victim impact statement was read out.

In it, Mrs Raybone said: “I’ve been to see about selling the house, I don’t feel safe here, even after 77 years. These boys have ruined my life. I feel like I have aged ten years in three weeks.”

Prosecutor Hash Salman said Mrs Raybone is partially deaf and almost totally blind in both eyes.

As she slept upstairs at around 3.45am on April 26 the defendants used a hammer to smash a doubleglazed conservatory door.

They searched the ground floor and took items including a plasma TV, CD player, jewellery, Mrs Raybone’s savings in £2 coins, frozen meat, the top drawer of her freezer and all its contents, alcohol and two boxes of personal items worth £1,000.

They then used Mrs Raybone’s phone to call a taxi to collect them at 5.45am, before ripping the phone out of the wall.

After travelling to Gilfach to use some of the stolen money to pay off a debt, they went to Hughes’ home.

Police were able to trace them.

Most of the items were recovered, including a silver necklace, cut figures and a gold ring, but Mr Salman said the photograph album from 1940 and brooch were not.

At police interview the pair said they had carried out the robbery to fund their heroin problems.

For Nicholls, Harry Baker said it was “despicable”, but they had not targeted Mrs Raybone. For Hughes, Karl Williams said he was using “every drug class A to C, including a serious heroin habit” and remembers little.

Recorder Peter Rouch said “despicable is no understatement”.

He said: “What you did has had a terrible effect on a 79- year-old woman.”

Nicholls was given a concurrent sentence of six months after also admitting theft from a shop. On April 25 he entered the One Stop Shop in Blackwood and took bacon and pork joints worth £23.98.