Man burgled home of disabled woman and robbed elderly man in his home in Scarborough crime spree

A thief has been jailed for more than eight years for an “appalling” crime spree in Scarborough.
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Drug addict Andrew Ratcliffe, 33, broke into a disabled woman’s flat, robbed a 72-year-old man in his own home and stole a woman’s precious wedding chain in a separate burglary – all on the same night.

Ratcliffe punched the elderly robbery victim repeatedly in the face, threatened to stab him, demanded money and then grabbed his neck and marched him through his home, York Crown Court heard.

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His burglary spree on September 12 last year began when he broke into a disabled woman’s flat on Fulford Road while she was sleeping on a hospital-type medical bed.

Andrew Ratcliffe.Andrew Ratcliffe.
Andrew Ratcliffe.

The victim, who is in her 60s, was recovering from a spinal operation and had “significant mobility issues” at the time.

Ratcliffe crept “right up to her” as she slept and stole her mobile phone at the side of her bed.

He then rifled through her belongings and stole her purse containing bank cards and cash.

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The victim woke up after Ratcliffe had fled the building but couldn’t call for help because her phone had vanished and she was unable to walk out of the property due to her condition.

It meant she had to “live in fear for the rest of the night”, unable to get back to sleep, and she had to wait until daylight before she could summon help from her neighbours.

Later that night, a couple were asleep at their home in the Mount Park area when Ratcliffe snuck in through a window and stole a backpack containing a gold chain belonging to the female victim.

He also took a coat and some tablets from the kitchen of the family home.

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Ms Woodley said the couple awoke to find three wine bottles had bizarrely been “stacked neatly” on the floor by the intruder.

In a statement read out in court, the husband said his wife’s wedding chain was “very sentimental” to them because in their culture it was used in the ceremony to complete the marriage.

He said it was “very upsetting” to have it stolen because it was “an item of great importance that we have now last forever”.

Later that evening, Ratcliffe broke into a pensioner’s home in St Sepulchre Street by climbing through his bedroom window.

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The named 72-year-old man said he was punched in the face “about 30 times” by Ratcliffe, causing bruising to his eye, cheek and temple.

“The defendant told (the victim) he had a knife in his pocket and was going to stab him if he didn’t give him £40,” said Ms Woodley.

“(The victim) said his wallet was in his jeans.

"The defendant emptied (the) wallet and took about £23.

"He then marched (the victim) through the property by his neck and left.”

Ratcliffe, lately of Sewell Road, Bradford, was later arrested and charged with robbery and two counts of burglary.

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He ultimately admitted all three offences and appeared for sentence on January 26, after being remanded in custody.

Ms Woodley said Ratcliffe had 33 previous convictions for 67 offences including robbery, burglaries and thefts including shoplifting dating back to his juvenile years.

His rap sheet also included using violence to enter premises and assaulting an emergency worker.

He was on a community order at the time of the Scarborough burglaries following offences he had committed that same year.

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Defence barrister Andrew Petterson conceded that Ratcliffe’s criminal record was “horrific” but there had never been anything more serious than his robbing of the elderly man in Scarborough.

He said the root of his offences was drug addiction which stemmed from a “very sad and traumatic childhood”.

Judge Sean Morris described Ratcliffe’s offences as “appalling and “inhumane”.

He said the “disgraceful” burglary at the home of a “very disabled” woman was compounded by the theft of a “precious” piece of jewellery from a couple’s home and the horrific robbery of a pensioner in his own home.

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“Like some snake, you slipped into his house,” said Mr Morris.

“You punched him repeatedly, having asked how old he was.

"He was 72 and you would have known his age anyway.”

Ratcliffe was jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

He will serve half of that sentence behind bars before being released on prison licence.