Female mugger ruined life of dementia sufferer (78)

Carmen Dean
Carmen Dean

A HEROIN-ADDICTED drunk from Nelson has been jailed for 12 months for mugging a 78-year-old dementia sufferer in a Burnley street - and the victim’s family has hit out at her “sickening” sentence.

Former publican William “Billy” Robinson was left injured after Carmen Dean struck, targeting him deliberately because he was very vulnerable.

Widower Mr Robinson, a father and grandfather, now fears going out alone and his family said the incident on July 23rd has “ripped his life apart”.

Dean had earlier admitted attempted robbery at Burnley Crown Court. The defendant (43), of Percy Street, Nelson, has been on remand since her arrest.

Mr Michael Wallbank (prosecuting) said the victim was described by his granddaughter as “extremely vulnerable.”

About 4-15pm, Mr Robinson was in Burnley when a witness saw Dean holding the pensioner by the clothing in the chest area. She was pulling at him, he was being dragged around and was stumbling.

Mr Wallbank said the witness, John Fielding, decided to confront the defendant. As he approached, she was walking away. She was holding a brown wallet and appeared to be looking in it.

The witness told her: “You have just robbed that man.” Dean claimed: “No, I haven’t, have I, George?” as she looked towards the victim. Mr Robinson approached the witnesses and told the men he didn’t know Dean and she had just robbed him.

The defendant was then seen to remove cash from the wallet. Mr Fielding detained her, struggling with her. His friend had called the police. Mr Fielding retrieved the cash and wallet and returned them to the victim.

The prosecutor said, by this time, a crowd had gathered. Mr Robinson complained of chest pains and an ambulance was called.

The defendant claimed she needed the toilet, walked away and then ran off, but was pursued and caught by one of the two men. Police arrived and Dean was arrested. She was cautioned and said: “I haven’t touched him. I just unzipped his top.”

Officers, who described the defendant as drunk, took her to Burnley Police Station. Mr Robinson had been taken to hospital and was found to have bruises to his chest, arm and head.

Mr Wallbank said, when Dean was questioned by police, she claimed she had been trying to help the victim, who, she claimed, was trying to find his bus pass. She denied robbing him.

The hearing was told Mr Robinson used to go out on his own regularly, but was now very reluctant to do so and although he had recovered from his physical injuries, he was more introverted then before his ordeal.

Mr Richard Taylor, for Dean, said: “Drink and drugs have really spoiled this lady’s life for the last 20 years.”

The defendant, who was on a reducing methadone programme, had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity. The solicitor, who said Dean had suffered violence at the hands of previous partners, continued: “The defendant presents today as somewhat pathetic in herself. She is very tearful, she is very upset about what has happened and wishes to apologise not only to the victim, but to the court.”

Sentencing, Recorder Andrew Long said Dean had suffered for many years from a long-term heroin and alcohol problem that had led her to commit a substantial catalogue of offences.

He said they mostly had taken the form of thefts, most of them shoplifting, although she had used violence against the police on three occasions. He said: “I accept this is far more serious than anything you have committed hitherto. I am satisfied you deliberately targeted the victim because he was very vulnerable and incapable of defending himself from you.”

Recorder Long, who said Dean would have been locked up for 18 months if she had not pleaded guilty, added: “It is most fortunate that two members of the public were able to prevent this getting any worse than it did.”

After the sentence, the victim’s family slammed the 12-month sentence as “absolutely disgusting, sickening and horrendous” and said they were shocked by it, as they had expected Dean to be locked up for years.

Mr Robinson’s daughter, Denise Dixon, who is also his carer, said it was “heartbreaking” to see the effects the attack had had on him. She went on: “It’s so sad to see him. She has destroyed my dad. She has ripped his life apart and got away with it. She has taken my dad’s life away.”

Mrs Dixon said of her father, who lives in the Duke Bar area of Burnley and who ran the Concert Artistes’ Club in town for 23 years, as well as other clubs: “He is the most pleasant, polite man you could meet and he would give you his last penny.”

Mrs Dixon said her father, who loves singing and visits a dementia karaoke group, is idolised by his grandchildren and enjoys spending time with his seven-year-old great-grandson, who are all slowly helping him to regain his confidence.

Mrs Dixon said after the attack, Mr Robinson had had to have 24-hour care for four weeks as was terrified of being left alone. She said before Dean robbed her father, the victim had walked to his local pub for a drink every day for 15 years, but he had not been since.

She continued: “She has taken every enjoyment of what he has got in his last years. She has destroyed the only pleasure that man has.

“We will get there in the end. We don’t mention the attack any more in front of my dad.”

And, in a sickening twist, Mrs Dixon said the defendant knew her father.

“We all grew up in Duke Bar, that’s one of the saddest things. She used to go in my dad’s pub. Her family lived on the next street to my husband.”