The case of Alan Barnes, the disabled pensioner from Gateshead who was robbed earlier this year, touched the hearts of many, and a fundraising drive for him collected over £300,000.
On 24th February 2015 Richard Gatiss appeared at Newcastle Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to assault with intent to rob. The case was adjourned for sentence.
What will he get?
When adjourning the case, the Judge “warned Gatiss jail was likely“. This is somewhat of an understatement. Custody here is a virtual certainty.
We know that Mr Barnes was a vulnerable man (he was visually impaired and is only 4 foot 6). He was attacked outside his home and was left with a broken collar bone.
There are sentencing guidelines for robbery (the Council have been recently consulting and intend to have a replacement out shortly). Although the offence was assault with intent to rob, the outcome of the sentence is pretty similar.
The sentence will depend on whether the injury to Mr Barns is deemed to be ‘serious physical injury’ that has been caused by ‘significant force’ (see the table at page 11).
It is difficult to say. My view would be that although this was a disgraceful and cowardly attack, it sounds like it was not quite in that category. We don’t know exactly how it panned out, but it seems that Mr Barnes was pushed in a confrontation and broke his collarbone whilst falling. – the news report says “Gatiss pushed Mr Barnes to the pavement outside his home in January and told him to hand over his money but his victim said he had none and Gatiss then ran off.”
For that reason, I would say it is towards the top of Category 2, with a starting point of about 6 years. There will be full credit for a plea of guilty, and so we would expect a sentence of about 4 years.
We don’t know the history of Mr Gatiss, but there appears to be a level of drugs misuse which may aggravate the case.
Either way, I would stake a lot of money on Mr Gatiss getting a prison sentence, and a lengthy one at that.