A PENSIONER has been praised for tackling a gang of Romanian cashpoint thieves who travelled to Yorkshire from London to commit crime.
The gang, which included two brothers, targeted elderly cash point users in Rawson Street, Halifax, last month, and this week were all given two year jail terms. .
And Judge Robert Bartfield commended the brave actions of 73-year-old Philip Guy who leapt into action to try and detain one of the gang.
Mr Guy was kicked in the face as one of the trio fled the scene and Judge Bartield awarded him £500 from public funds for his brave actions that morning.
Bradford Crown Court heard the trio had been lying in wait in the Rawson Street area and moved in as 66-year-old John Byrnes and 78-year-old Kathleen Griffiths tried to use the side-by-side cashpoints
In a planned attack the men waved papers in front of their victims to conceal the keypads of the machines and then pressed the amount button to obtain £200 in cash from both complainants.
Mr Byrnes tried to grab one of the men as Mr Guy grappled with another of the thieves.
Prosecutor David Lampitt said Mr Guy grabbed the collar of one of the men but his fingers were bent back and when he tried to hold onto him by the leg he was kicked in the face. The men fled in a silver car, but they dropped half of the £400 at the scene along with a pair of lens-less glasses which one of them had been using as a disguise. A bystander was able to note down the registration number of the car and the next day the men were arrested after being stopped by police in Cheshire.
At a hearing earlier this month Ioan Lingurar, 25, his 22-year-old brother David, and 30-year-old Nicolae Rostas, all pleaded guilty to charges of theft from the person.
The court heard that each of the men had previous convictions for similar offences and at the time of the thefts in Halifax Rostas was already subject to a suspended prison sentence.
The defendants’ lawyer Nicholas Whitehorn said they had all worked in the past, but they committed offences essentially for financial reasons.
“Their previous convictions do not paint a very pretty picture on their behalf,” he conceded.
In her victim impact statement Mrs Griffiths said she now had to go to the bank with her son and had to think twice about going out on her own.
In his statement Mr Byrnes described having sleepless nights for almost a week and no longer used cash machines when he was on his own.
Each defendant was jailed for two years for the thefts and Rostas was given an extra 18 weeks in prison because of the suspended sentence.
Judge Bartfield said the method used by the men to disorientate their victims demonstrated that it was a planned, and professional enterprise. The judge said the serious part of the offence was that people who drew cash out of machines were having to look over their shoulders for people like the defendants.