A VIOLENT armed robber who attacked a 90-year-old war veteran and his elderly wife in their home and threatened them with a gun has been jailed for more than 10 years.
Harley Newland, 22, chatted and drank tea with Eric and Joyce Davey before strangling Mr Davey and leaving his 86-year-old wife lying unconscious on the floor of their Scunthorpe house in a pool of blood.
Grimsby Crown Court heard today how he described himself in a letter to the judge as “disgusting, horrible, vile and disgraceful” after what he did.
Judge David Tremberg said the attack on the Daveys was “vicious and brutal” and passed an extended sentence on Newland.
The judge said he should serve 10 years and eight months but faces an extended licence period for up to 15 years.
The court has heard how, during the attack, Newland produced a gun and demanded money from Mr Davey, threatening to shoot his wife if he did not comply.
The court was told the defendant was motivated by greed and spent £2,700 of his ‘’ill-gotten gains’’ on a Rolex watch for his wife.
Prosecutors said the couple’s injuries could have been fatal, irrespective of their age. They were taken to separate hospitals, where they spent their first Christmas apart in 69 years of marriage.
Mr Davey made a 999 call to the emergency services in which he can clearly be heard struggling to speak due to the damage caused to his throat by Newland.
He tells the operator that he and his wife have been attacked by a man and are both ‘’bleeding badly’’ and begs her to send an ambulance.
He said: ‘’My wife’s on the floor. I don’t know whether she’s dead or alive.’’
Both the victims now suffer from nightmares as a result of the attack, with Mr Davey experiencing flashbacks to his time serving in the Navy in the Second World War.
Newland has admitted robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and grievous bodily harm with intent on Mr Davey and inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mrs Davey.
Sentencing Newland, Judge Tremberg said he could easily have been going to prison for life for a double murder.
The judge said he attacked Mr Davey with such force that the pensioner felt his “life was ebbing away” and police who found Mrs Davey unconscious thought she was dead.
He told Newland: “I’m satisfied that you couldn’t care less what degree of harm you caused to her.
“You were indifferent to her condition. You proceeded with your callous and calculated attack.”
The judge said: “This was a targeted attack on two elderly people in their own home.
“Mr Davey thought his wife was dead. He thought you were going to strangle him.”
He said Mrs Davey suffered a bleed on her brain which still impairs some of her everyday functioning.
Judge Tremberg said: “It is clear this was cold-eyed, premeditated offending.”
Speaking outside court, prosecutor Jeremy Evans said: “I have rarely dealt with a case of such shocking callousness and brutality.
“On 23 December 2014, an elderly, defenceless couple were violently beaten and robbed at gunpoint in their own home.
“This was no opportunistic crime committed by a stranger. It was carefully and cynically pre-planned.
“Newland was already familiar to the couple as an odd job man so that when he arrived at their house with a cheery wave and bearing a Christmas gift bag, they had no concerns about inviting him in for a chat and a cup of tea.
“What happened next was horrific. Without warning, Newland brutally assaulted first Mr Davey and then his wife. He stole £6,000 from them, before making off, after having spent nearly three hours in their home.
“He left both with appalling injuries and it is only by great good fortune that the attack was not fatal. The psychological trauma they have experienced will take a long while to heal.
“The victims of this crime are a loving, elderly couple, living quietly and independently. What is most remarkable about this appalling case is their courage, dignity and resilience.”
Mr Evans added: “They have demonstrated, in their brave determination to put this incident behind them, a spirit and courage which is quite remarkable.
“They are so much stronger than the despicable coward who, motivated solely by greed, abused their trust, and robbed and attacked them.
“I hope that this knowledge, the support of their family, and the sentence handed down to their attacker today, will help them continue on their road to recovery.”
Mr and Mrs Davey said it was a “miracle” they had survived the attack.
In a victim statement, the couple said: “This was a vicious assault and robbery on us, an elderly couple, in our own home and committed by someone who was not unknown to us.
“It is a miracle that we survived our wounds and injuries and it is our belief that we were not meant to.”
The couple said their physical wounds had healed but their recovery from the effects of the mental trauma would take time.
And they issued a warning to other elderly people.
They said: “This incident should serve as a timely reminder that the elderly are especially vulnerable to perpetrators of crime and, unfortunately, it is necessary to be on guard at all times and be especially careful about who we open the door to.”
The couple thanked Humberside Police, staff at Scunthorpe General Hospital and The Diana Princess of Wales Hospital and the local community for their help and asked for privacy.
They said: “We would like it to be known that we are a private couple who shy of publicity, preferring to keep ourselves to ourselves, and therefore request that our privacy be respected so that we can go on quietly and steadily regain our confidence as we try to face the outside world once again.”
A Humberside Police spokeswoman said the sentence reflected Newland’s “calculated, cruel and vicious behaviour”.
She said: “This is a very rare incident and people should feel safe in their own homes all of the time.
“It was a vicious and brutal attack on two very elderly and vulnerable members of the community who were unable to defend themselves and who were targeted by Harley Newland because of their age and vulnerability.
“Both victims received nasty injuries which resulted in them requiring hospital treatment and they were both very lucky not to have received any permanent damage. Newland used unnecessary force and left the victims in a terrible state, without a shred of concern for their wellbeing.”
The spokeswoman urged people to be careful about answering the door to strangers and not to engage with cold callers offering to do jobs.