Two arrested for violent robbery of elderly stroke victim who suffers from Parkinson’s disease
By Court reporter | 23rd January 2023
A 64-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman have been jailed for violently robbing an elderly stroke victim who suffers from Parkinson's disease.
Anthony Gardiner of Daniels Road, Stroud, Gloucestershire, and Serena Hotchkins of Langtoft Road, Stroud, pleaded guilty at Gloucester Crown Court to robbing the man of his wallet and phone in his own home on May 10, 2022.
Prosecutor Alistair Haggerty said Hotchkins and the victim were known to each other and she would have been aware of his medical condition because they saw each other quite regularly.
The victim not only suffered from Parkinson's Disease but had recently had a stroke, Mr Haggerty said.
"During the early hours of May 10, 2022, the man heard knocking the front door. He heard a woman sobbing and when he went to the door, he heard Hotchkins' voice. He looked through the window and could not see anybody else with her," said the prosecutor.
"He thought it was safe to open the door and as he did so Gardiner forced it wide open. The pair went straight to the man's bedroom. The man followed the pair into the bedroom whereupon Gardiner blocked the doorway with his body, preventing him from leaving.
"Hotchkins told the man she wanted money and when he refused Gardiner demanded that he give her some money because she wanted to 'score'.
"The man bravely told the pair to get out of his home and he put his hand on his wallet beside his bed. It didn't contain any cash but held his bank cards and medical details.
"Hotchkins then pushed the man away and snatched his wallet from him, but he managed to get it back. Gardiner then grabbed the man from behind and held his hands around his neck, leaving the man struggling to breathe. Hotchkins took the wallet from him, and the pair left the property.
"The man was unable to find his mobile phone to call the police, so he tried to walk to a neighbouring house for help, but because of his condition, he fell over. He had to crawl across the floor to get to a neighbour who he woke up and was able to call the police."
The court was told that the police attended the victim's address at 2.30pm but because of his medical issues had difficulty communicating with the officers. The police soon realised that the man had been taken advantage of on a number of different occasions.
The police found Gardiner on London Road in Stroud. He had the victim's wallet on him and a bank card in the man's name. Hotchkins was arrested two days later.
The victim stated that, seven months after the robbery, he still feels nervous about going out. He is still very worried that the two defendants will attack him in the future. He now doesn't open the door to anyone and is worried about the safety of not only himself but his carers.
The victim stated that he believed the stress of the robbery has worsened his Parkinson's disease.
The court was told that Gardiner also had to be sentenced for a number of other offences that included a theft on August 11, 2022, at Great Western Hospital in Swindon. When a patient left his rucksack in the waiting area of accident and emergency department while he was seen by a doctor, Gardiner took the rucksack.
A review of the CCTV revealed that Gardiner had spotted the bag and had rummaged through it outside the entrance of the unit and had taken the bank cards and £50.
Gardiner was arrested later that day and the bank card was found in his possession.
On July 22, 2021, Police were called to an incident along the canal path in Stroud where Gardiner was heard shouting abuse at a member of the public who, fearing for their own safety, called the police.
"When the officers arrived Gardiner was still in the area and was challenged by the police. Gardiner readily admitted to the officers that he was carrying a lock knife in a public place.
"On May 18, 2022, the week after the robbery, Gardiner assaulted a woman, claiming that he owed her £10. He threatened the woman with a bottle of whisky that was in his hand at the time but head-butted her in the face instead. When Gardiner was arrested in Kendrick Street, Stroud, for this offence he was found in possession of a knife and an adapted shank - a pair of tweezers fastened to a handle.
The court was told that Gardiner has 61 convictions for 250 offences.
Sarah Jenkins, defending Gardiner, said: "At the time of his offending he had a substantial drug debt. His main mitigation is that he has admitted all his offending, albeit at various stages of the legal process.
"It's clear that most of these offences were committed while under the influence of alcohol."
Nicholas Lee, defending Hotchkins, said: "I don't intent to minimise the impact the robbery has had on the elderly victim. However no weapons were used and there was only a moderate level of force used.
"Hotchkins' previous convictions are generally theft orientated which have been caused by her drug addiction and the people she associated with.
"Whilst she has been remanded in prison she has suffered a period of withdrawal symptoms but has begun refocussing on herself and is now continuing her education.
"She is fully aware that she will receive a substantial prison sentence and is resolved to keep herself clean from drugs in the future."
The pair pleaded guilty to robbery of the man in Stroud on May 10, 2022, while Gardiner admitted the theft of a rucksack and its contents from Great Western Hospital in Swindon on August 11, 2022; possessing a lock knife in London Road on July 22, 2021; Gardiner also pleaded guilty to possessing an offensive weapon, namely an adapted shank in Kendrick Street, Stroud On May 18, 2022; possessing a knife in Kendrick Street on the same date and assaulting a woman by beating on the same occasion.
The judge Recorder James Watson KC told both defendants: "The most serious offence in which you were both involved in was the robbery of an elderly man suffering from a number of medical issues.
"You would have been aware of these conditions. You both played your own part in snatching the wallet and robbing him of it. You used significant force to achieve your aim. The victim did try to defend himself until Gardiner stepped in and grabbed him around the neck."
The judge sentenced Gardiner to a five year prison term for all offences and said that the length was mainly due to his antecedence record.
Hotchkins was sentenced to a prison term of 43 months.
Both defendants were subjected to a seven year restraining order not to contact the victim by any means and both were ordered to pay a mandatory surcharge.
The judge also ordered the forfeiture and destruction of the knives and offensive weapons.
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