Disabled man crawled home after Brierfield street gang attack: dad-of-four jailed

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A DISABLED man was left to crawl home after he was mugged by a gang who stripped him of his rings and took his crutches, a court heard.

“Terribly vulnerable” Thomas Bamford, who has arthritis, sciatica and “mild learning difficulties,” was robbed not only of his possessions but his dignity when he was targeted for the pack attack after he went out to buy two loaves. The thieves, who saw him as easy pickings, even took the bread, Burnley Crown Court was told.

Mr Bamford was punched in the face by one of the youths, while another demanded his money and phone. One lout rifled through his pockets, his jacket, mobile phone and wedding ring were taken and an accomplice snatched his crutches, making him fall to the ground. The victim was left “floundering” in pain, disorientated, in extreme distress and had to crawl to his nearby home.

The hearing was told only one of the five thugs has been charged over the terrifying offence and he was locked up for two years. Wraith Greenwood (20), a father of four and, until the attack a petty crook, admitted robbery. The defendant, of Commercial Street, Brierfield, was sent to a young offenders’ institution.

Miss Sarah Statham (prosecuting) said just before 4 p.m., on August 26th, Mr Bamford was making his way home with his bread. He was followed by the gang of five, who were shouting and swearing, and was frightened. He tried to walk as fast as he could, but as he turned he saw the youths running at him.

Miss Statham said the victim was hit in the face and one of the group shouted: “Give us your phone. Give us your money. Give us everything.” Mr Bamford told them he had nothing, but wad told: “You must have money. Give it to us.” The gang repeated their demands over and over again and tried to keep Mr Bamford on the spot by holding his arms.

The victim’s jacket was stolen which contained his mobile phone, paperwork and cards and his rings were pulled from his fingers. His assailants then fled, one of them snatching Mr Bamford’s crutches as they went. The same male also stole his bread.

The prosecutor said Mr Bamford had to crawl 10m home, which took him five minutes, and called the police. He was to tell officers he had felt stupid, vulnerable and violated. The defendant was found nearby in a back alley not long after, was chased by police and threw a mobile phone to the ground. He was arrested and, at the police station, was found to be in possession of Mr Bamford’s keys and two rings. The crutches were also in the alley.

Greenwood made no comment when questioned but provided a prepared statement, claiming he had stopped to ask the time and the victim “freaked out,” started throwing things at him and had then “run off.”

Mr Tim Storrie, for Greenwood, said he had a significant history before the courts, but this was a “a spectacularly more serious offence.”

It was a group attack which made it all the more serious. A man had been targeted because of his disability and would have been left with mental scars. The barrister added: “The defendant knows severe punishment will come his way. He is utterly terrified about today’s events.”

Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt told the defendant: “This was a quite disgraceful attack on a blindingly obviously vulnerable man in the street, in daylight. The five of you behaved like a pack of animals.

“This will affect this poor man probably for the rest of his life and I doubt he will ever feel confident walking down the street again.”