Brave pensioner’s tussle with burglar in South Yorkshire village

A “courageous” pensioner tussled with a burglar when he found two men stealing electrical goods from his neighbour's home in a South Yorkshire village, a court heard.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Friday, 31st January 2020, 2:23 pm

The 73-year-old man grabbed one of the thieves by his coat while the other fled from the back garden of a terraced house, on Kelly Street, Goldthorpe, on June 8, last year.

But the burglar twisted free, leaving his coat behind, and the pair made off with £1,708 of goods, including a television, an ipad, glasses, a telescope and binoculars, from their 74-year-old owner, who was visiting hospital at the time.

Police found a fingerprint that led them to Luke Smith, who was under investigation for an earlier, attempted burglary at a bungalow on St Michaels Close, Goldthorpe, on March 22, last year.

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Kelly Street, Goldthorpe, where the 73-year-old man confronted two burglars.

Smith's accomplice disabled a "nature watch" CCTV camera, installed in the woods behind the property by the council, while he climbed over a back wall, said prosecutor Laura McBride.

But his attempts to force open a lock woke a member of the family, who switched on kitchen lights and scared Smith off.

CCTV cameras in the back garden identified Smith, and he was arrested on April 5, but denied everything, Miss McBride said.

He made another failed attempt to break into a detached house, on Park Street, Wombwell, Barnsley, and left blood on a door handle he tried to force open, on July 3, last year.

Smith, who has eight previous convictions and has previously served half of an 18 week sentence in prison, was arrested the next day.

Sean Fritchley, mitigating, said Smith's mother died in a traffic accident in 2017, and "from that point on, things went downhill rapidly."

"His drug use escalated and he was using cocaine and cannabis on a daily basis and found himself homeless," said Mr Fritchley.

"He tells me he has learned a lesson the hard way. He doesn't like prison."

Smith, 23, currently of HMP Doncaster, admitted the offences before a trial.

Judge Peter Kelson QC gave him four years in prison and praised the 73-year-old man's "courage" for his "remarkable" intervention, Sheffield Crown Court heard on Wednesday.