Man stole rings from his dead girlfriend
A MAN could be facing a jail sentence for stealing rings from his dead girlfriend's fingers.
Philip Spencer, 51, took the rings off Christine Kirk's fingers after he discovered her lying dead in her home.
He told police he took the rings to pay for her funeral but now claims he pulled the three rings off her fingers as a keepsake.
Spencer also stole £130 in cash from Miss Kirk's house two days after her death.
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An inquest into her unexplained death has been opened and adjourned.
Spencer has pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and sentence has been deferred for reports.
Recorder David Bradshaw told Spencer: "You have got to be sentenced for what I regard as a serious offence.
"All sentences, including immediate custody, will come into play."
Hull Crown Court heard Spencer went to Miss Kirk's home the day after her 58th birthday.
He let himself into her house and stole from her purse after he claims he found her sleeping.
A Humberside Police spokesman said Spencer claimed he returned the next day only to find her dead in the house.
She said Spencer, an alcoholic who claimed he was under the influence at the time, then took more money from her purse and three rings from her hand.
Spencer then raised the alarm with a neighbour, who immediately called an ambulance.
Miss Kirk's family contacted the police after discovering her property was missing. Spencer stole £50 in cash from her home in Malborough Avenue, Hornsea, on May 18 and £80 in cash from her the next day, as well as her rings.
In a basis of plea entered to the court, Spencer said: "I admitted I took the rings at an emotional time as keepsakes.
"I later realised Christine's family might want them, so they were returned. All the money and rings have been returned to her family."
The Crown Prosecution Service has rejected Spencer's claim that he took the rings as a keepsake.
Prosecutor Caroline Wiggin said: "The explanation given in police interview was that it was because he was concerned there would be funeral costs."
However, Recorder Bradshaw said the reason for the theft would make no difference to the sentence Spencer would be given.
He said: "He took them dishonestly and that's what matters."
Nigel Clive, defending, said Spencer's lifestyle and his relationship with Miss Kirk needed further investigation.
Mr Clive said: "He is a man who has some mental health issues, which no doubt the Probation Service will investigate."
Spencer, of Pybus Court, Hornsea, has been granted unconditional bail and is due to be sentenced in October.
An inquest into Miss Kirk's death is due to be held later this month although police have confirmed they are not treating it as suspicious.