Alan Barnes mugging: Richard Gatiss sentenced to four years in jail for 'despicable' assault on disabled pensioner

Well-wishers raised £330,000 to help Mr Barnes' recovery

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The Independent Online

The man who mugged disabled pensioner Alan Barnes has been jailed for four years after the attack caused outrage around the world.

Richard Gatiss, 25, knocked Mr Barnes to the ground outside his home in Gateshead and broke his collar bone, and a judge at Newcastle Crown Court said he deliberately targeted the 67-year-old.

Sentencing Gatiss for assault with intent to rob, judge Paul Sloan QC told him: “I have no doubt he was picked on by you because of his vulnerability.

“It was on any view a despicable offence.”

Mr Barnes is just 4ft 6in tall and has been disabled since birth after his mother contracted German measles during pregnancy.

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Pensioner Alan Barnes broke his collarbone in the assault

The court heard how Gatiss, a drug addict, was desperate for money to buy so-called “legal highs” when he carried out the mugging attempt.

After the attack featured in news bulletins, a fund was set up by local beautician Katie Cutler – who did not know Mr Barnes beforehand.

The appeal became hugely popular online and raised a total of £330,000, at which point it was halted by the Barnes family.

Jamie Adams, defending, said it was “an awful case” but publicity surrounding it made it difficult to “keep a proper outlook on what the sentence should be”.

Gatiss blamed his drug addiction for the attack but showed remorse after he admitted the offence, his lawyer said. He had told police; “I’m not a nasty person, it [the addiction] was bad but I’m sorting it out. You cannot just come off it like that or you will cut yourself.”

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Mugged pensioner Alan Barnes meeting fund-raiser Katie Cutler for the first time

But after the sentencing, Mr Barnes said he thought it was the right length of time and he hoped Gatiss would “do some thinking” while he was in prison.

“I'm pleased he's been sentenced and I think the sentence of four years is just about the right length,” he said.

“It's sad that he was brought to the stage of doing something like this - not necessarily just me, it could have been anybody and they might not have got over the incident.”

Mr Barnes, who was left too scared to move back home after the attack, plans to buy a new house with the funds raised by the public. He and Ms Cutler also plan to use their newfound high profiles to set up a joint charitable foundation to raise £1 million for good causes.

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Mr Barnes, who was left too scared to move back home after the attack, plans to buy a new house with the funds. He and Ms Cutler also plan to use their newfound high profiles to set up a joint charitable foundation to raise £1 million for good causes.

Additional reporting by agencies