'Fearsome' Leeds robber punched frail 89-year-old widow, ripped jewellery from her neck and stole her engagement ring after kicking down door to her home

A frail 89-year-old woman was brutally attacked in her bedroom after a violent robber kicked down the door to her home.

Thursday, 6th January 2022, 4:45 am

The terrified pensioner feared she was going to die or be sexually assaulted as Martin Cameron carried out the horrific assault.

Cameron, 41, was given an extended prison sentence of 17 years for robbing the woman at her home in Leeds in November 2020.

Leeds Crown Court heard how powerfully-built Cameron kicked the door to her home "clean off its hinges" as the woman was asleep in bed.

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Martin Cameron was given an extended prison term of 17 years for robbing a vulnerable 89-year-old widow in her own home in Leeds.

The robbery took place just three months after the death of the victim's husband of 54 years.

A jury heard she was already nervous about being alone in her home when Cameron targeted the property.

After hearing the noise from the door being kicked in she went downstairs and was confronted by Cameron.

The defendant went upstairs and began searching her room.

The victim followed Cameron and he grabbed her by the neck and threw her onto the bed.

Cameron then straddled her on the bed and punched her to the head and face before ripping the jewellery she was wearing from around her neck.

He continued to search the room and took "items of immense sentimental value", including her engagement ring and an eternity ring given to her by her late husband.

Cameron left the property but was identified as the attacker after his DNA was recovered from the victim's nightie.

He was also linked to the attack from mobile phone cell site analysis.

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Cameron, of Lydgate, Burmantofts, was found guilty of robbery after a trial.

He was also found guilty of burglary at a house in Harehills committed six days before the robbery.

Cameron has previous convictions for robbery and burglary dating back to 1994.

Some of the offences involved him confronting people in their own homes.

In 2013 he forced a woman to lay face down on her bed at her home in Leeds as he searched the property and took her mobile phone.

The defendant also has a conviction for taking part in a prison mutiny.

The victim provided a statement to the court describing the devastating impact the robbery has had upon her.

John Bachelor, prosecuting, said the pensioner had already been worried about being on her own due to the recent loss of her husband.

Since the incident she has suffered panic attacks and her son and daughter now stay with her at her home overnight on a rota basis.

The property has been equipped with security gates, window grilles and a CCTV system to help her feel safe.

Mr Bachelor said: "Every sound she hears makes her worry.

"She feels like a prisoner in her own home."

Andrew Dallas, mitigating, said Cameron carried out the robbery to fund a long-standing addiction to crack cocaine.

The barrister said: "Behind the large man that he is - and which no doubt presented a fearsome sight to the victim - he is a man diagnosed with PTSD.

"He has an established record of depression and anxiety which itself has made it difficult in the past to resist drug use."

Judge Neil Clark imposed an extended sentence after a probation service report assessed Cameron as posing a serious danger to the public by committing offences when on drugs.

He must serve a custodial term of 12 years, of which two-thirds must be spent in prison.

Cameron will then be on licence for a further period of five years.

Judge Clark said: "You are 41 and have a truly appalling record now.

"It is hard to think of anything more unpleasant than this.

"This would have had a significant impact on this victim and she feels like a prisoner in her own home.

"When on drugs, in particular crack cocaine, you are prepared to commit very serious offences to perpetuate that lifestyle."

After the case, Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Superintendent Jaz Khan, Head of Crime for Leeds District Crime Team, said: “Cameron put this very elderly and vulnerable lady through an absolutely terrifying ordeal when he smashed through the door of her home at night and violently attacked her before tearing jewellery from her neck.

“Although she bravely tried to fight back, she was easily overpowered by stocky 17-stone Cameron and we can only imagine the fear she must have felt at that time.

“He was quickly identified as a suspect by detectives from Leeds District Crime Team who were focusing on a spate of similar offences between July and November last year.

“Excellent teamwork, including support from specialist officers at the Force’s Protective Services Crime, saw him located and arrested.

“Crucially his DNA was identified on the elderly victim’s nightie where he had grabbed her.

"He was also convicted of a burglary a week earlier where he had threatened the victim in his home.

“Cameron’s actions have clearly shown him to be a dangerous individual and we hope his imprisonment for these offences will provide some reassurance to the victims in this case and to the wider community.”