A ROBBER who repeatedly terrorised an elderly couple in their own home has been jailed for eight years.
Paul Robert Hargreaves wanted money to fund his £70 a day heroin addiction and after a sneak-in burglary at the pensioners’ home in Harehills, Leeds, last May decided they were an easy target.
Leeds Crown Court heard the couple, aged 84 and 86, were both frail, partially-sighted and in poor health, ideal victims for Hargreaves, who only left them alone for a few months because he was in jail on another matter.
On the evening of the sneak-in burglary on May 22, in which a wallet was stolen, Hargreaves returned posing as a policeman, pretending to be investigating the earlier crime to get the husband to answer the door.
When the pensioner kept the security chain on Hargreaves kicked the door with such force it snapped and he pushed the elderly man into a chair. When he began to shout for help the intruder put his hand over his mouth to stifle his cries.
Richard Smith, prosecuting, said Hargreaves demanded money from him and when his wife tried to intervene she was pushed away and fell to the floor.
The robber then produced something which the husband thought was a knife to threaten him, but Hargreaves said later it was his mobile phone which he held towards him. The elderly resident was forced upstairs where £80 in cash was stolen from a wallet before he left.
No one had been arrested for the offences when Hargreaves was jailed for eight months on May 26 for theft. After his release in late September, having served half the sentence, he went back again to the couple’s home on November 9 and claimed to be a catalogue salesman.
When the door was opened he forced his way inside. The husband who had been knocked into a chair was then dragged upstairs where £50 in cash was taken.
On returning downstairs, Hargreaves discovered the wife had managed to stand using her walking sticks and grabbed one, causing her to fall over and injuring her knee.
By then police had installed a CCTV camera in the couple’s front room and after Hargreaves returned on November 22, it was noted the intruder was wearing a specific jacket.
On that occasion he had tricked his way in by asking to read a meter, flashing an identity card which was taken as genuine. But he fled empty handed after the wife managed to activate her carer alarm.
The next day police saw Hargreaves in the jacket after its description was circulated. He was arrested and initially denied responsibility for such “sick” offences but later apologised and agreed he was the intruder and would get what he deserved from the courts.
Hargreaves, 36 of Harehills, Lane, Leeds admitted four charges of robbery, one of theft and one of burglary. He also asked for 13 other offences to be taken into consideration including the original burglary at the couple’s home.
Jailing him, the Recorder of Leeds Judge Peter Collier QC said “it is a horrendous account of events.”
The couple had lost trust and felt prisoners in their own home, where they had lived for 50 years. “You have ruined the twilight years of their lives.”