Brave pensioner hid handbag from Leeds robber

Patrick Joseph Cawley.
Patrick Joseph Cawley.
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A robber has been jailed for a total of 10 and a half years after he attacked an 89-year-old woman in her home having previously tried to burgle the bungalow of a woman in a wheelchair.

Leeds Crown Court heard yesterday Patrick Joseph Cawley tried to trick his way into the pensioner’s home in Woodhouse on September 23 last year telling her there was “a lad” in her back porch.

She became suspicious so kept her door on the safety hinge and he then tried to scare her to come outside by saying he thought the gas appliance might be there and there might be an explosion. Jeremy Lindsay, prosecuting, said Cawley then slipped off the safety hook and pushed his way inside covering her face with his hand. She was screaming as they moved into her home and said her knees just gave way, landing her on the floor. As Cawley, 46, of Colenso Grove, Holbeck, searched her shopping bag, the pensioner bravely sat on her handbag so he would not see it, directing him instead to a purse where she kept some loose change. She told police later she was tired because she had a busy week and felt frightened but also angry and decided to “just keep going”. Later she could not believe what she had done.

Mr Lindsay said just half an hour earlier, Cawley had tried a similar break-in on a home in nearby Eltham Drive, where a woman in a wheelchair opened the door. He said someone was in her back garden trying to get in and offered his help, but she blocked his way, not believing him and a fellow resident came to support her.

The court heard in 2004 Cawley was jailed for eight years for robbing an 81-year-old woman.

Andrew Stranex, mitigating, said he had been doing well on his release but unfortunately lapsed when the medication he was taking had an destabilising effect on him.

Cawley admitted robbery and burglary with intent.

Jailing him Judge Christopher Batty said the pensioner had behaved with great courage given “the fear that must have been coursing through her”.

Coun Judith Blake

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