Anthony Rigby, Lee Sergeant and Leroy Sanders had all served time in prison – and when they saw the pensioner walking in the street it was an opportunity they couldn’t resist.
The three surrounded the elderly man, bundled him into an archway and demanded cash from him. They fled after being disturbed by a passing motorist, only to be identified by CCTV.
Today the gang members are behind bars for the attack in Telford. They all admitted a charge of attempted robbery.
The court was told the experience had had a profound effect on the victim, who now struggled to go out and socialise as he had before.
Judge Peter Barrie told the men that their crime had resulted in “psychological impact” on their victim.
He told them: “This is a 70-year-old gentleman who has dementia and respiratory problems and who also has issues with his mobility.
“He had a routine which was an important part of his life. He was grabbed and taken to an archway out of sight and in the course of what happened he fell to the ground.
“It was upsetting for him and he has suffered a loss of confidence and his routine of going to the pub has changed.
“It was a terrible thing to do to a gentleman and it has caused him real harm.
“It was due to the actions of the motorist who took the trouble to get out of her car that the attack came to an end and you ran off.”
The pensioner was walking from Madeley Post Office to the Barley Mow Pub when he was targeted by the trio.
All three of those involved had previous convictions,including for robbery, theft and assault and had served time in prison.
They admitted their involvement after being shown security camera footage of the incident unfolding in Madeley town centre. The men targeted the pensioner in the street on September 5 last year, Shrewsbury Crown Court was told.
The court was told they had watched the man’s routine and would have known he had money on him.
Mr David Bright, prosecuting, said: “The victim in this case is a man who has a regular course of conduct and the prosecution will invite the court to consider that these defendants knew that if they were to see him at a certain time he would have money on him.
“Mr Davies was walking to a nearby public house and he is shown on CCTV footage in the town centre of Madeley, walking from the town to the pub in question.
“He had almost reached his destination when three men we know as these three defendants, walked up behind him and held on to him, and forced him to the ground and were rummaging through his pockets.
“They did not find £331 that was on him because a passing motorist who thought what she saw happen troubled her and she stopped and asked the three men what they thought they were doing, whereupon they ran off.”
He told the court that former soldier Rigby, aged 43, was identified from the film by a police officer and all three were subsequently arrested.
Mr Robert Edwards, mitigating for Rigby, said: “We concede that it was a targeted offence. We do not concede that it was planned.
“My client and the co-defendants were unaware that the complainant was likely to be in receipt of cash.”
He said Rigby, of Queen’s Court, Madeley, had issues with drugs and had suffered post traumatic stress disorder during his Army service.
The ex-Light Infantryman was jailed for a total of four years and four months. He had previous convictions dating to 1998 including for robbery in 2006 when he was jailed for five years.
Sergeant, aged 41, of Stebbings, Sutton Hill, was jailed for three years and eight months after Judge Peter Barrie said he recognised he was present during the attack, but had not touched the victim.
Sanders, aged 45, of Meadow Lea, Madeley, was jailed for four years and two months after the judge said he had a lull in offending between 2011 and the latest incident.
They must serve half the terms before being released on licence.
Judge Barrie praised the actions of the female motorist. He said she would be recommended for a good citizen award.