Pensioner “blacked out” and suffered head wound as he tried to chase drug addict who grabbed his cash at Calderdale ATM
An 83-year-old man suffered a bad gash to his head when he “blacked out” and collapsed as he tried to chase a drug addict who had grabbed his cash and wallet at an ATM in Todmorden.
A judge described Peter Thornton as “a career criminal” after hearing how he had racked up 74 previous convictions for 164 offences and he said the 54-year-old, of Beaufort Street, Nelson, had deliberately targeted his elderly victim at the cash machine that morning.
“Had it been a 20-year-old man at the cash point withdrawing cash I’m satisfied you would have gone nowhere near him,” Judge Andrew Hatton told Thornton.
Bradford Crown Court heard today (Wed) that Thornton, who had been desperate for drugs money, had stolen a can of Special Brew beer from the One Stop Shop on Bridge Street on the morning of July 3, but he then remained in the area before targeting his victim at a nearby ATM.
Prosecutor Syam Soni said the complainant had been withdrawing £200 from the machine when Thornton asked for some money and the victim refused to give him any.
Mr Soni said Thornton stole the money that had been dispensed by the ATM and then grabbed the victim’s wallet, which contained another £200, from his hand.
“The victim attempted to pursue the defendant who had run away in the direction of a taxi stand, but unfortunately the victim suffered a black-out and collapsed,” said Mr Soni.
“As a result of collapsing he sustained a gash above the left eye which required six stitches at hospital and two follow-up appointments.”
The money snatch was captured on CCTV and when Thornton was arrested on suspicion of robbery he denied using any force to take the cash.
The court heard that the money was going to be used for a dental operation for the victim’s wife and Judge Hatton said the £400 would have been a huge amount for the retired complainant.
The victim didn’t leave his home alone for nine days after the attack and it was suspected that the incident had accelerated his problems with memory loss.
Thornton pleaded guilty to a charge of theft from the person as an alternative to robbery and also admitted stealing the can of beer from the shop.
The judge was told that Thornton was remorseful for what he had done and had already been remanded in custody for five months.
Barrister Lucy Wright said her client had been in the grip of a hopeless addiction to heroin and bitterly regretted taking the decision to steak from his victim.
Judge Hatton said the complainant may have chased after Thornton perhaps thinking he was younger and fitter than he really was.
“But he gave up that chase after a short time,” said the judge.
“In fact the anxiety and stress caused by your actions led to him, there and then, having a black-out and collapsing to the ground.
“You are 54 years of age and you have an enormous number of previous convictions. You are a career criminal.”