Nelson man jailed for six years for attack on pensioner

JAILED: Craig Kennedy
JAILED: Craig Kennedy

A PROLIFIC crook who has repeatedly targeted the elderly and vulnerable has been jailed for six years for trying to mug a pensioner.

Burnley Crown Court heard how Craig Kennedy left 76-year-old Mrs Rita Downing injured and unable to go out alone after he attacked her in a ginnel near Tesco in Nelson last May 28th. He had only been out of prison eight days. She was to tell police the only time she had felt fear like it was when she was hiding in a cellar as an 11-year-old girl during the Blitz in the Second World War.

Kennedy has 65 previous convictions for theft, a record for robbery, and since 2001, the victims of his burgling and stealing have been aged between 76 and 86. He was caught after police recognised him on CCTV. The defendant was arrested, said he was sorry although he was not admitting it and when asked if he could just give the victim closure, said: “I can, but there’s a time to do it and it’s not now.”

The defendant (42), formerly of Carr Road, Nelson, admitted attempted robbery. Sentencing him, Recorder Nick Clarke said he had targeted elderly women for over a decade and had repeatedly picked on a vulnerable section of society who were easy prey.

The judge said the defendant had an appalling record and added: “I hope that by the time you are released you will not be a danger to elderly ladies in the future.”

Mr Bob Elias (prosecuting) said Mrs Downing was going to the dentist and cut through the ginnel, known as Goitside, just before 2-30 p.m. She felt two tugs at her handbag and shopping bags in her left hand and realised someone was trying to snatch them.

She gripped them tightly, screamed, but Kennedy pulled hard and dragged her to the floor. She fell on her back and banged her head and knee. The defendant ran off, leaving her with bruises, soreness and marks where she had held on to her bags. A passer-by heard a crying noise and found Mrs Downing on the ground. CCTV footage was collected and a police officer saw the defendant following the pensioner into the ginnel.

Mr Elias said Kennedy was arrested on June 9th and denied the offence. He told officers: “You’ve got the evidence, charge me.” He asked the victim be told he was really sorry, but added: “Well, I’m sorry for what happened. I’m not admitting it, am I ?”

Miss Jennifer Blewitt (defending) said Kennedy had spent the majority of his adult life in and out of custody. He was now taking steps to address the underlying causes.

He recognised the offence was terrible and had himself described it as “despicable.” The defendant had spent four years heroin-free and was now in his 13th week free from any substance abuse. He showed remorse and motivation and had gained certificates while on remand.

Miss Blewitt added: “He is recognising these changes need to be made and he needs to change his way of thinking. That has been entrenched for such a long period of time.”