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Gloucestershire Business News

Newent man jailed for robbery of 74-year-old woman

A 38 year old Newent man who robbed an elderly woman of £800 after he had seen her withdrawing money from the town's post office was jailed for three years yesterday.

Paul Hale, of Lightfoot, Newent pleaded guilty to robbing 74 year old Janet Davis of bank cards and £800 in cash on 28th January this year.

Paul Hale, picture GNS

Prosecutor Janine Wood, played CCTV from inside the Newent post office at Gloucester Crown court.

Judge Ian Lawrie QC observed: "He appears to be looking at her."

"Yes," Mrs Wood said, "and she had a rather large amount of money."

"The CCTV tends to show him looking towards her a lot," the judge noted.

The court heard that Hale followed Mrs Davis outside and when she put her bag containing the money into her car, he pushed past her to snatch it.

Defence lawyer, Lloyd Jenkins representing Hale said there was 'minimum force, no weapon used, and it was completely opportunist'.

Mrs Wood agreed that it was 'minimal force' adding: "Luckily she did not sustain any injuries.

"This has had an effect on her. There is a vulnerability because of her age."

The judge said: "She was targeted due to her age. Two things: she is elderly and she has a lot of money.

"He is clearly considering it."

"She is a soft target," Mrs Wood said.

The court heard that Hale had 12 previous convictions for 20 offences starting in 1994 as a juvenile.

Mrs Wood noted a conviction from Jamaica where Hale was sentenced to 'hard labour'.

"How quaint," the judge observed.

"Quite clearly she would like that money back if at all possible," the prosecutor said. "There is an application for compensation of £800."

Mr Jenkins conceded the robbery was 'A mean spirited offence, selfish offence. Targetted but opportunistic.'

He argued that his client was under pressure from his dealer to settle a £1,000 drug debt.

"I find it extraordinary, and I understand the pressure of the drug supplier, But mugging a 74 year old in broad daylight is inexcusable," the judge said.

The judge noted that Hale did not plead guilty straight away and seemed reluctant 'to recognise you used force.'

"You cannot bring yourself to admit that and recognise it," he told Hale referring to some of the comments he made to probation in preparation for the pre-sentence report.

"If you said 'I did push her I did not want to harm her' that would be something.

"But instead you carried out a calculation that your chance at trial was remote. That causes the court concern.

"She was extremely shaken by the event. The money stolen was for her family.

"There is no point in compensation or distressing her to think she would get paid.

"Any trip for her now to Newent would be tarnished by the memory.

"You got yourself shackled to a drug habit. You have to bear response for it.

"You cannot pick on a 74 year old," the judge told him.

"At least the distress of trial is spared."

The judge said there were many aggravating features.

"You watched her. Kept watching her. You deduced she was an easy target."

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