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Jailed: Robber ‘ruined’ life of widow, 88, in attack

By David Briggs | Newtown | Crime | Published:

An intruder who hit a defenceless widow of 88 with a mystery weapon during a “sickening” raid at her remote home has been jailed for 14 years and four months.

Robbery victim Blanche Rowlands

Jeffrey Earp, 50, of Ceiriog, Newtown, who admitted robbery, was told by Judge Timothy Petts: “You have ruined her life.”

Caernarfon Crown Court heard that the victim, Blanche Rowlands, had been struck repeatedly to the face and had severe bruising, a broken arm and lost consciousness. She was left for a number of hours locked in a bedroom.

Judge Petts said it was a sickening attack.

“It must have been an horrendous ordeal for her,” he told Earp.

Earp also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit burglary in June last year in Newtown with two other men from the town. Keith Grogan, 42, of Frolic Street, and Carl Barrett, 51, of Dinas, both said to have been disgusted by the violence, were each jailed for three years.

Prosecuting counsel Anna Pope said: “There’s no suggestion or evidence either Grogan or Barrett went in the house. But they remained outside acting as lookouts.”

Miss Pope said the raid was “planned and targeted.”

Mrs Rowlands had been outside, walking down her path and unaware she was being watched. When she returned to her door Earp had been waiting and he forced his way inside and demanded cash.

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The victim was struck with an unknown weapon, causing “significant” injury to her face and body and Mrs Rowlands went to the floor at some stage. Earp stopped her reaching a phone and he rifled through drawers and wardrobes.

Police and an ambulance were alerted after a neighbour had been called by the widow’s daughter who’d tried to call her without success. He heard faint knocking and found the victim “confused, upset and frightened”.

Miss Pope said it was a “confused” picture about what exactly had happened.

“Mrs Rowlands’s recovery was slow and she continues to have limited movement to the upper left arm and shoulder,” the barrister said.

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An engagement ring, gold watch received as a 21st birthday present, and her late husband’s gold ring were among items missing. It was likely they had been sold at Shrewsbury by Grogan and Barrett, said Miss Pope.

Bethan Rowlands said in a statement that her mother was injured in a “brutal” attack and she could no longer lead an independent life. She said :”To say this attack has affected her life would be an understatement. The injuries have left her physically and mentally scarred.”

The pensioner suffered nightmares and flashbacks.

“No-one else should have to go through what she went through,” her daughter said.

All three defendants had a catalogue of previous convictions.

Huw Rees Davies, defending jobless Earp, said he had struggled with drug addiction. Earp claimed the injuries were caused by a “significant push” and the pensioner falling against furniture. Earp had no memory of using a weapon.

“He’s shocked by the extent of the injuries. For what it’s worth, he apologises for his actions,” the lawyer added.

Jonathan Austin, for Grogan, said he went voluntarily to the police station and had no idea Earp would behave as he did. He had been owed £20 by Earp.

Dafydd Roberts, barrister for Barrett, added :”He’s appalled by the behaviour of Mr Earp and the violence inflicted on this lady.”

Judge Petts said those who preyed on the elderly would receive “severe” sentences.

David Briggs

By David Briggs
@davebriggs_Star

Shropshire Star Content Manager

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