Leeds robbery gang terrified 91-year-old woman

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Three men who terrified a 91-year-old woman when they smashed their way into her home in Leeds before attacking a neighbour to steal his car have been jailed for more than 25 years.

The men broke into the elderly woman’s home in Gledhow, through the front door after trying to smash their way through a side door in the early hours in March last year.

The men had run off when they were confronted by the elderly victim who had screamed in terror.

They had been seen acting suspiciously in the street moments before and a member of the public had called the police.

A 56-year-old neighbour was sat in his car nearby with the engine running about to drive to the doctor after feeling unwell.

The men threatened him and demanded his wallet before attacking him with a crook lock. He suffered a large gash above his eye which needed stitches.

They pulled him from the Ford Fiesta and drove away in it with his wallet and house keys.

Officers on their way to the scene spotted the stolen car heading towards Chapeltown but it sped off and was lost in the area of Gledhow Valley Road.

Other police units began trawling the Chapeltown area looking for the vehicle and it was seen in Back Grange View but sped off and was pursued before being lost again.

Leedswatch CCTV operators spotted the vehicle in Louis Street before it disappeared from view. Moments later officers found the car abandoned in Hamilton Gardens.

Two of the men, Craig Harris-Hamilton and Darryl McClean, were stopped by officers coming out of a nearby ginnel.

When they searched McClean they found the victim’s wallet and keys as well as a Stanley knife and balaclava. Both men were arrested and taken into custody.

The third man, Andrew Claxton, was arrested after officers saw him at Harris-Hamilton’s address when they searched it. Claxton was well known to police as a robber and had only been released from prison a few days before.

Forensic examination of the men’s clothing identified blood from the car robbery victim.

Claxton’s DNA was also found on a pair of gloves discarded at the scene of the robbery.

Harris-Hamilton was also picked out by a witness on an identity parade.

Harris-Hamilton, 45, of Knowle Terrace, Burley, and McClean, 52, of Spencer Place, Chapeltown were each sentenced to nine years and three months in prison. Claxton, 37, of Domestic Street, Holbeck, was jailed for seven years and four months.

PC Pete Armstrong, of Leeds District Neighbourhood Crime Team, said: “All three of these men are well known criminals who were prepared to use violence and aggression to commit offences.

“Leeds is undoubtedly a safer place with these men off the streets. We hope the victims in these incidents and the wider community will take some comfort from seeing them brought to justice and given lengthy prison sentences.

“The police response to the incident on the night and in the investigation that followed was an excellent example of the sort of teamwork that helps to keep our communities safe from men like this.”