AN elderly Winsford couple who had their son’s war medals stolen from their home while out at church, have told a judge of how their world has been turned upside down.

Burglar James McCabe, of Georges Lane in Banks near Southport, broke into their home on Sunday, April 29 last year, and they say the items he stole are simply irreplaceable.

McCabe appeared at Warrington Magistrates’ Court on Thursday donning a poppy in support of war veterans and their families, and pleaded guilty to the burglary, during which he stole war medals awarded for service in the First Gulf War.

The 28-year-old caused damage to the property in Chester Road, Winsford, in order to gain entry, before stealing a number of other items of both sentimental and monetary value.

In a victim impact statement, the couple, who are in their 70s, said that ‘their lives had changed as they knew it’ and they have been left ‘very frightened’.

“We have gone from being very confident people to very frightened,” it read.

“We do not want to leave our home and would have moved to a new house if we were financially able.

“Items stole were of great sentimental value. Items which could never be replaced.”

The court heard how the couple left their home at approximately 10.10am to attend church on the day of the burglary.

They returned at 2.30pm after visiting friends and discovered the lock on their front door was broken.

Upon entering the property, they found that it had clearly been disturbed and searched.

Shattered glass lay on the floor caused by a conservatory window which had been smashed by a rock to gain entry.

A long list of items had been taken, including military medals that had been awarded to the couple’s son after a tour of duty in Iraq and Kuwait during the First Gulf War.

Other items stolen were a Manchester City badge, gold and silver watches, limited edition silver collector’s boxes, silver mirrors, Swarovski jewellery and between £300 and £400 in foreign currency.

The police were informed and after DNA examinations were carried out, it was concluded that there was a ‘one in a billion chance’ that McCabe was not the burglar.

McCabe is due to appear at Chester Crown Court later this month for sentencing.