Jail for Bedford robber who targeted elderly and vulnerable women

Luton Crown Court
Luton Crown Court

A woman who suffered a broken thigh bone when an intruder burst into her flat, took 30 minutes to crawl across the floor to reach her phone and call her family for help.

Kathleen Wright was already getting over a broken hip when drunken Patrick McCann broke in and threw her walking frame across the the room.

Two months later Kathleen, who lived on her own in Bedford, died and on Thursday (June 24) her son came to court to tell McCann his actions that night had brought about the untimely death of his mother.

McCann, 51, of Queen Street in Bedford pleaded guilty to robbery and inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Luton crown court was told how over the years he had targeted elderly and vulnerable women carrying out a string of robberies and thefts where he snatched their hand bags and purses.

He had only recently been released from a long prison sentence passed the public’s protection for a series of similar offences and was on licence at the time he forced his way into Kathleen’s Home.

On the evening of January 29 this year he had been passing her ground floor flat in Stanley Street, Bedford when he saw the 67 years old through the window and decided to rob her of any cash she had to buy alcohol with.

Prosecutor Richard Hutchings said she had suffered a broken hip in 2020 and needed a zimmer frame to get about.

The court heard it was just after 8pm when she went to close the blinds and heard a loud banging on her front door.

Looking through the spy hole she could see a man outside in a high visibly jacket with a torch and thought he might be someone official.

Mr Hutchings said as she opened the door she could see McCann who had been drinking, and realised instantly it wasn’t an official visit.

She tried to slam the door shut saying “You can’t come in, you can’t come in,” but McCann forced the door open and came in, hurling her frame across the room as he did so.

The court heard Mrs Wright lost her balance and fell heavily to the floor fracturing her right femur.

As she pleaded to McCann “Please don’t hurt me” he clamped a hand over her mouth and then grabbed her handbag, shaking it in the woman’s face.

Judge Gary Lucie hearing the case was told Mr Wright was in pain on the floor and told McCann “Take it, take it,” and he made off moments later.

The prosecutor said to reach her mobile phone on the other side of the room, Mrs Wright had to slowly crawl and it took her 30 minutes before she was able to summon help.

As McCann made off along Roff Avenue where farther and son saw him with a ladies handbag which he shoved under his top.

Shortly afterwards McCann tried to get into a property in nearby Garfield Street where a 90 year woman lived, but was sent packing by her son.

The court was told McCann was arrested on February 3 after he was recognised on cctv.

Mrs Wright had suffered a broken right femur in the break in at her home.

The prosecutor said in hospital she underwent surgery, but the effect of the fracture was to exacerbate the previous injury to her hip and ulcerated leg.

“Very sadly since then she has passed away,” said Mr Hutchings.

Mrs Wright’s son Peter read out a a victim impact statement in the court and said his mum had died in March of this year.

He said when McCann had forced his way into her flat, it had taken away her confidence and “fragile recovery.”

Peter Wright said the incident had further weakened his mother’s heart and she was in constant pain.

He said the robbery in her home that night had “left her broken and having to endure weeks of pain.”

Mr Wright said “He put her health and recovery ever further back,” and he said McCann had taken away family time that could have been spent with her.

“It’s our opinion her untimely and premature death was brought about by the events of that evening,” he said.

McCann’s barrister, Graham Blower said he had been brought to court from Bedford Prison where he had been on remand, as “a broken man.”

“The memories he lives with day in and day out are of what he’s done and that will be with him for the rest of his life. He has twice tried to kill himself recently”

He said McCann was ashamed at what he’d done and hadn’t told his family

Before he sentenced McCann Judge Lucie addressed Peter Wright and other members of Mrs Wright’s family who sat in the public gallery, telling them: “Whatever sentence I pass today can’t change what has happened but I do send my condolences to you and your family.

The judge said the motive for the offences had been to get money to buy alcohol and Mrs Wright’s home had been ransacked as a result.

He said McCann had a history of targeting elderly and vulnerable women either in their homes or in the street and for similar offences he had been released from prison in April 2019.

“I am not sentencing you for causing her death, but for your actions it’s likely she would not have died. When she did it was clearly a contributory factor,” said the judge.

Because of the risk McCann poses to elderly people the judge said only an extended prison sentence could be passed.

He sentenced him to extended prison sentence of 15 years.

The judge explained that the custodial element of the sentence was 10 years, of which he must serve a minimum period of two thirds behind bars before the parole board can consider if he is safe to be released back into society.

If they feel he can’t be released at that stage McCann could end up serving the whole 10 years.

Whenever he is released he will then be on an extended licence meaning he can be recalled to prison if he re-offends up until 2036

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