A BRAVE car park attendant aged 74 fought off a masked robber who tried to steal his cash tin in a frightening raid, a court heard.
Derek Knowles fended off 36-year-old heroin addict Phillip Hulme, who forced his way into the pensioner’s kiosk at the Westgate car park in Rotherham town centre, demanding: “Hand over your money.”
Mr Knowles pushed Hulme out of the kiosk while shouting for help, causing the desperate robber to flee without taking a penny.
Sheffield Crown Court heard Derek was left shaken but uninjured after his ordeal and said in a statement: “I’m 74 years of age. I don’t need this sort of thing to happen to me.”
Judge Roger Keen QC jailed Hulme for four years, telling the robber: “You knew very well that your victim was vulnerable. He was a brave man and fought back.”
The court was told dad-of-two Hulme, who used to care for the elderly, launched the raid to pay £55 rent due the same day to homeless centre The Lighthouse Project, where he was living on Westgate.
Fiona Swain, prosecuting, said Mr Knowles had worked as an attendant at the private car park for eight years and that Hulme knocked on the door of his hut at around 1.45pm on July 5.
“He heard a knock on the door and went to open it. The defendant was wearing – on a very hot summer’s day – a ski-type jacket, gloves and a balaclava, which didn’t cover his face but obscured part of it. He forced his way in and pushed Mr Knowles backwards by the shoulders, causing him to stumble. He shouted ‘Hand over your money’.”
Ms Swain said the tin containing the car park takings was just behind Derek.
“He pushed the defendant out of the kiosk, saying ‘Help, stop him, he’s trying to rob me’,” she added.
“Two customers, both postmen, saw the struggle, and indeed on seeing them the defendant ran off.”
As he fled the scene, Hulme was spotted by Darren Jones, manager of The Lighthouse Project.
Ms Swain said: “He was aware the defendant had been living there from June 21 and owed £55 in rent, which he’d been told he had to pay by 5pm that day.
“He’d also had cause to speak to him about taking drugs.”
When stopped by police Hulme was caught with a bag containing the outfit he’d been wearing earlier and he tested positive for heroin after his arrest.
His criminal record included 68 offences of dishonesty, and he was handed a five-year prison sentence for robbery in 1999.
Marsha Myers, defending, said Hulme ‘didn’t have the most favourable start in life’ and witnessed violence at home from his abusive father.
Ms Myers said Hulme once worked as a live-in carer for an elderly lady with dementia.
His partner of eight years has just given birth to their baby son, she added, and he also has a teenage daughter with a previous partner.
“He deeply regrets what happened,” Ms Myers said.
Judge Keen told him: “You have plagued your life with an addiction to drugs. You decided, because of your own difficulties, that you were going to rob a car park attendant. You knew very well that your victim was vulnerable – there, in the middle of town, in a hut at 74 years of age.
“He was a brave man and fought back, and you didn’t get anything.”
Hulme admitted attempted robbery and was locked up for four years, minus 33 days already spent in custody.