‘Wicked’ Leeds gang left stroke victim with fractured skull in crowbar attack

Ryan Slattery
Ryan Slattery

A gang of violent criminals who left a stroke victim with a fractured skull and slashed his arms and legs as he lay bed-ridden have been branded “wicked” by a judge.

Ryan Slattery and Christopher Hartley were part of the masked gang which targeted the vulnerable 59-year-old victim and his 79-year-old mother as she was caring for him at their home in Leeds.

A court heard they forced their way into the property and told the mother: “The old man upstairs is going to get it and so are you.”

The victim was hit over the head three times with a crowbar as they demanded to know where his money and the morphine to help relieve his pain was kept.

A knife was also used to cut his arms and legs.

They then ransacked the property and stole televisions, mobile phones and other equipment along with morphine and other drugs from the house in the Ireland Wood area of the city.

Judge Rodney Jameson, QC, said: “It is not usual for a judge to use the word ‘wicked’, but it is difficult to use any other.

“It was wickedness of the most extreme kind, made all the worse because it was totally unnecessary.”

Slattery was caught after the gang’s getaway car smashed into a wall on the Ring Road at Shadwell. He was trapped in the wreckage of the vehicle when police arrived in the early hours of January 15 this year.

In a separate incident, Hartley broke a pensioner’s jaw in a random attack on Town Street, Armley, in November last year.

Hartley turned violent towards the 70-year-old victim when he refused to give in to his demands to hand over cigarettes and money.

Hartley was arrested in March this year after he drove dangerously through Leeds city centre while drunk in charge of a motorbike.

He mounted pavements and drove through red light during the police pursuit.

When officers managed to pull him off the scooter and apprehend him he told them: “I’m like Al Capone.”

Slattery, 18, of Ramshead Approach, Seacroft was locked up for six years and nine months after pleading guilty to aggravated burglary and causing grievous bodily harm.

Hartley, 26, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary, wounding with intent, causing grievous bodily harm, dangerous driving and failing to provide a specimen of blood. The court heard both men have criminal records for burglary.

Judge Jameson adjourned Hartley’s sentencing to allow for further reports to consider how much of a danger he poses to the public.

Referring to the incident the judge said: “It is entirely obvious that this was a planned aggravated burglary at the home of a vulnerable victim.

“It was an utterly shocking attack.

“It is apparent that those who went into that house were able to take not only money, but prescription drugs that he used for his condition.

“It is difficult to imagine the mentality of those who took part in that attack.” The victim had to undergo surgery after suffering a fractured skull caused by the crowbar blows.

He also suffered broken ribs and slash wounds to his arms and legs.

Prosecutor John Boumphrey read a victim statement to the court on behalf of the elderly woman in which she described her terror at seeing four masked strangers force their way into her home.

The court heard she would never forget the sight of her son covered in blood after the attack.

She said: “It is despicable. I still have the image ingrained on my mind.”

The woman said she suffered from pneumonia after the incident which she attributes to the ordeal as she had to run from the house in the cold to raise the alarm. She added: “Our lives have been turned upside down for the last six months.”

After the case, Det Insp Andy Welbourn, of Leeds District CID, said: “This was a shocking incident where a 79-year-old woman was confronted by masked men armed with weapons in the early hours of the morning before they went on to attack her 59-year-old son leaving him with serious injuries.

“Hartley and Slattery were motivated purely by greed.

“We hope Slattery’s significant prison sentence will provide some source of comfort to the victims.”