A ROBBER who punched and threatened a disabled 59-year-old Eastfield man before taking the cash he won on a bet has had his prison sentence more than doubled by top judges on appeal.
Leslie Robson, 52, attacked housebound John Joseph O’Brien and left him lying on his living room floor, where he spent a whole night before the alarm was raised.
Robson was jailed for three years at York Crown Court in February after he admitted the robbery.
But the Government’s top law officer, the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC, said the prison term was “unduly lenient” for repeat offender Robson, who had more than 100 previous convictions.
He brought the case to London’s Court of Appeal yesterday, where three senior judges more than doubled Robson’s sentence to seven years.
Lord Justice Moses told the court Mr O’Brien, who needed a zimmer frame to get around, was at his home in Eastfield in January 2010 after winning around £1,300 on a bet.
Robson knocked on the window of the ground-floor flat and, being known to Mr O’Brien, was let in. The court heard the two then sat talking in the dark as Mr O’Brien’s electricity meter had timed out.
The judge said Robson then jumped up mid-conversation and punched Mr O’Brien to the side of the head. He stood over the disabled man brandishing a steel-headed hammer and threatened to kill him.
Robson, of Manchester Road, Bolton, took Mr O’Brien’s £1,300 winnings as well as another £200 and made off, leaving the older man on the floor with a wound to his forehead.
The judge said Mr O’Brien, who has since died from causes unrelated to the attack, only called for help the following morning, when he managed to get himself back into a chair.
Lord Justice Moses, sitting with Mr Justice Maddison and Judge Clement Goldstone QC, told the court: “The victim was vulnerable.
“He was in his own home and the effect of an attack in his own home aggravates his feeling of vulnerability in a place where he would normally expect to be safe.
“Further this was a planned attack in the sense that the fact that the victim had money worth taking must have been known to the offender.
“Quite apart from those factors the offender had a bad record. He was 52 and had been in court on 54 previous occasions and sentenced for 134 offences, mainly for dishonesty.”
Mr Grieve told the court the three-year sentence Robson received for the crime was not long enough and should be increased.
After hearing his submissions, the judges ruled the sentence “unduly lenient”, commenting Robson could have faced a prison term three times that length.
Lord Justice Moses said: “The task of the sentencing judge was to pass a sentence which properly reflected the gravity of the offence. The three-year sentence of imprisonment does not reflect that gravity or the aggravating factors to which we have referred.
“The correct region of sentencing in our view would be, for an offence such as this, one of eight or nine years imprisonment.
“We take the view that some allowance should be given for the late plea of guilty and for what is loosely called double jeopardy, the effect of having to go to prison for far longer than initially thought, and the impact of a prison sentence on a 52-year-old man will be severe.
“We take the view that, taking these factors into account, the appropriate sentence was one of seven years.”