Couple jailed for violent robbery on Rotherham pensioner

Gemma Hilton
Gemma Hilton

A couple who took part in the violent robbery of a pensioner in his own home have been jailed.

Thomas Steele, aged 73, who lives alone in Maltby, was punched in the ribs and face and twice pushed to the floor as two men stole £400 from him.

Paul Massey

Paul Massey

Paul Massey, 36, was jailed for four-and-a-half years and his long-term partner Gemma Hilton, 32, who aided and abetted the robbery by providing information about the pensioner, was given three years.

Sheffield Crown Court heard the victim, described as ‘friendly old bloke’, escaped with just bruises but lost his savings.

Michael Slater, prosecuting, said Hilton ‘cased’ the house with a female friend of the old man.

The friend, who looked on the old man as a ‘father figure’ and would occasionally ‘sub’ her cash, had a cup of tea with the pensioner, while Hilton looked around upstairs.

Mr Steele gave the women £20 to buy beer which he took from a wallet he kept behind a cushion on his sofa and the other woman a further £6 to buy cigarettes.

The next day Mr Steele heard a knock at the door and a man shouting ‘Tom’.

He was confronted by two men. The first man, whom Mr Slater said was Massey, shoved him in the chest and he fell to the floor.

Both men came in and the second man, who has not been named, locked the door behind them.

Massey was screaming ‘Where’s the money?’ and he looked behind the cushion but could not find the wallet.

The other man grabbed Mr Steele in a bear hug, while Massey rifled his trouser pockets and found the wallet with £400 inside, ripping off the pocket.

Mr Steele went after the pair but Massey pushed him to the ground. They fled taking the house keys.

The victim rang his son and his daughter-in-law found him ‘hardly able to breathe and in a right state’.

Mr Steele said he was punched in the ribs and face during the seven-minute ordeal and one of the men was wearing a balaclava.

Massey and Hilton, later seen wearing new coats, were arrested.

CCTV pictures showed the pair getting on a bus to Maltby and walking to Mr Steele’s home with the other man. Massey’s DNA was found at the scene.

Mr Steele said: “I feel vulnerable in my own home and I’m frightened to open the door.”

Despite not having much money he has had to spend £120 on security measures.

He said of the stolen cash: “It was my emergency stash for whenever I needed it.”

Massey, of Selborne Street, Eastwood, Rotherham and Hilton, of Norfolk Court, in the town centre, both admitted robbery on November 16 last year.

The court heard Massey had served jail terms for robbery and driving while unfit through drink or drugs and Hilton had also been jailed for shoplifting.

Dermot Hughes, for Massey, said it was not him wearing the balaclava or pushing and punching Mr Steele but the other assailant, who he did not know.

He said Massey knew it was a ‘horrible’ offence and was genuinely ashamed.

The long-term heroin and methadone addict, had been ‘troublesome’ to the shopkeepers of Rotherham, but had now become drug-free.

Ian Goldsack, for Hilton, said almost all of her offending was shoplifting. She did not participate in the robbery and was drunk at the time.