‘Vigilante’ left badly hurt after attacking innocent pensioner at his Sowerby Bridge home

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A would-be vigilante has been jailed after his revenge attack went disastrously wrong at the hands of an innocent pensioner.

Distraught father Paul Prentice had been looking for the man responsible for his daughter ending up in hospital, but he went to the wrong house in Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, and was badly injured himself.

Bradford Crown Court heard yesterday how he and his accomplice Christian Keene wore balaclava masks as they tried to force their way into the home of innocent man Keith Whittaker.

During the late-night confrontation in November, the 73-year-old hit Prentice, 50, over the head with a hammer as he tried to stop the pair getting into his home.

Prosecutor Philip Standfast said Mr Whittaker also put his fingers into the eye-holes of Prentice’s mask and dug them in. As the struggle continued, he removed both intruders’ masks before they fled. He was taken to hospital for a check-up but only suffered pains and a black eye.

Prentice, who had previous convictions for wounding, left blood at the scene and Keene’s DNA was also found on his mask.

In a letter on his behalf, Prentice, of Oxford Street, Sowerby Bridge, conceded Mr Whittaker should be “applauded” for his actions. His barrister Stephen Wood confirmed his client had been left badly injured.

Mr Wood said Prentice was traumatised after seeing his daughter wired to machines in hospital not knowing if she would live or die, but thankfully she had recovered.

Prentice, and Keene, 34, of Hanover Street, Sowerby Bridge, were both sentenced to six years after admitting aggravated burglary.

Judge Colin Burn said: “I am absolutely satisfied that the only reason that Mr Whittaker was not badly injured, or worse given his age, was the fight that he put up and the serious injury that he dealt to you Mr Prentice with a hammer. The horrible and potentially tragic mistake that you made was that it was the wrong house and the wrong man.”