A man who was part of a gang which carried out a terrifying aggravated burglary at the home of a bed-ridden Rhyl pensioner, has today been jailed for a total of nine years.
Defendant Ynyr Yale Lewis stood open mouthed in the dock at Mold Crown Court when the sentence was passed.
He had earlier admitted involvement in the raid at the home of the sick pensioner who suffered from cancer – and a separate burglary at a public house.
Lewis had told police that he was involved with two other men – Paul Wood and Chad Daniels – but pleaded not guilty saying he was frightened of them and acting under duress.
He changed his plea to guilty earlier this week – and Wood and Daniels were cleared when an application of no case to answer was granted at the end of the prosecution case.
The court heard today how after Lewis implicated the other two, Wood was alleged to have slashed Lewis to the face with a knife – but Wood had been cleared by a jury.
Today Lewis, 36, formerly of Ruthin but now of Marine Avenue, Pensarn, received eight years for the aggravated burglary and a consecutive 12 month sentence for the pub burglary, making nine years in all.
Judge Niclas Parry said that in the company of other prolific and serious offenders he took part in an aggravated burglary at the home of a pensioner which had every conceivable aggravating feature to it.
“Late at night you smashed your way into the home of a bed ridden 72-year-old man,” he said.
It was a planned attack by three men carrying poles and a knife.
One of the three had a link to the victim and believed he kept significant amounts of money in his home.
The judge told Lewis that he knew who the other two men were but he was not prepared to tell the jury.
They had entered the bedroom of a vulnerable man who was ill with cancer.
When he denied that he had any money there was a physical struggle with him while the other two trashed the place looking for money.
A neighbour, who had visited to help and support him, intervened, but he was struck by a cowardly blow to the head from behind.
The blow caused a wound which needed 12 stitches and the gang got away with £3,000 which had never been recovered.
The pensioner had been traumatised and feared living in the home where he had lived for 36 years .
Tragically the neighbour who lived a life giving voluntary support to vulnerable people in society was now fearful of doing so.
Lewis had earlier committed a burglary at The Harbour public house in Kinmel Bay which caused real trauma.
“In the early hours you smashed your way into the public house as part of a gang. You entered an office next to a bedroom where a waitress lived and slept.
“She was awoken by the noise and was so terrified she got out of bed and sat against the door for fear that the gang would enter.
“You heard the police arrive and fled empty handed.”
Judge Parry said that Lewis had led a criminal life-style and his poor record aggravated his position.
The judge said that until his change of plea Lewis claimed that he acted under the duress of the other two - that he acted out of fear and under threat.
But Judge Parry said that he rejected that claim.
“I have listened to the evidence. I have seen a CCTV which shows you walking brazenly and confidently in various premises with the two others,” he said.
Lewis had been seen to walk past police officers and it was clear he could have spoken to them if he was acting under duress.
“You could have assisted the crown and help protect the public by giving evidence. You chose not to do so,” the judge told him.
The judge said that he accepted that Lewis had mental health issues but he said that much of his issues related to his drug taking.
It was the prosecution case that the three men worked as a team.
Paul Wood, 41, of Balmoral Grove in Rhyl and Chad Daniels, 27, both of Balmoral Grove in Rhyl, denied aggravated burglary at the flat in Bath Street, Rhyl, on the night of December 5 last year, and a burglary at The Harbour public house in Kinmel Bay in the early hours of the same day.
They were both formally found not guilty when defending barristers Brian Treadwell and Maria Massellis successfully argued that there was no case to answer.
Today, when barrister Nicholas Cockrell, for Lewis, started to mitigate, the judge told him the reality was that he would be fighting to keep the sentence in single figures.
Mr Cockrell said that while his client had previous convictions the present case was a clear escalation in his offending. “He knows he will receive a lengthy period of imprisonment,” he said.
Although his change of plea to guilty was late, there had been an unusual background where he initially claimed the defence of duress. But he accepted advice.
There was an air of vulnerability about him and he appreciated that the court would have little if any sympathy for him.
He had mental health issues since he was a teenager but had to accept that much of his problems were induced by drug taking. Lewis had ultimately been diagnosed with schizophrenia and was under the care of a consultant psychiatrist and the community mental health team.