Man jailed for pensioner burglary

 

A burglar whose terrified 86-year-old victim suffered a suspected heart attack has been jailed for 16 months.

Barbara Haynes, from Lancaster, died eight weeks after William Hartley climbed through a window of her home and prompted her to rush into her bathroom in horror and lock the door.

She alerted police by pulling an emergency cord and Hartley fled empty-handed but the pensioner later felt unwell and had to be taken to hospital.

The widow was eventually fit enough to return home but her daughter told Preston Crown Court she was "never the same" after the break-in in the early hours of February 15 and was noticeably more frail.

Fingerprints on the window of the address in Wheatfield Court were traced to the defendant who was arrested and told officers he had been out drinking and had taken valium.

He could not accept - and still does not believe - he was capable of such an offence as he changed his plea to guilty on the day of the scheduled trial.

Hartley, of Sun Street, Lancaster, then committed a public order offence while on bail and beat up his girlfriend a day after pleading guilty to the burglary.

His counsel, Chris Hudson, explained Hartley had alcohol and drug problems which all stemmed from the break-up of his parents' marriage.

He submitted that a community order would be appropriate so his client could continue to address his addictions but Judge Norman Wright dismissed his plea and imposed an immediate custodial sentence.

David Traynor, prosecuting, said Mrs Haynes was woken in her bedroom by the figure of Hartley whose foot was on the window sill.

When later interviewed by police, she said although she was "a woman who did not scare easily she was very frightened".

"She was found in a very distressed state," he said. "She was shaking quite violently and she told the officers she was feeling unwell.

"Her daughter says that in her opinion her mother was never the same after the break-in.

"She was worried about returning home and that the defendant would attend again.

"After the incident she appeared to be slower and more frail."

Chris Hudson, defending, conceded it was "a tragic offence" and the victim would "undoubtedly have been petrified" and "would not have known what was to happen".

But he said it was also a tragedy for the defendant and his family.

His parents had separated in his mid-teens and he went to live with his mother in Spain.

His school life was unhappy and he was introduced to cannabis before graduating to harder drugs.

Hartley returned to the UK to his father and gained employment as a chef but his downward spiral of alcohol and drug use continued, said Mr Hudson.

"His personality has been significantly damaged by the consequences of drink and drugs," he said.

He continued to be supported by his girlfriend despite admitting an offence of battery against her which he is due to be sentenced for next Wednesday.

Pleading for a three-year community order, Mr Hudson said: "It might be thought, wrongly, that he would be getting off lightly. It would be a mistake for anyone to think that."

Hartley was "vulnerable" and there was a fear he may take his own life if sent to custody, he said.

The root of his problems was not his fault, he added, saying they were problems which would not effectively be dealt with by treatment in prison.

His father, Graham Hartley, from Morecambe, a manager with Cumbria County Council, gave evidence that his son came from two loving parents but had "struggled in the last few years".

He was willing to support agencies in overcoming his son's addictions.

But Judge Wright ruled an immediate custodial sentence was the only option for "a young man who clearly has problems".

The burglary itself had many aggravating features against a victim who feared the worst from a female perspective, he said.

"It seems even though these proceedings were hanging over your head you could not seem able to lead a life that was crime free," he added.

PA

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home