Radio Sandwell News

Alan Barnes attack: Richard Gatiss jailed

2015-04-02 18:16:12

Alan Barnes and Richard GattisThe judge told Gatiss, left, that his attack on Mr Barnes was "despicable"

A man has been handed a four-year prison sentence for assaulting disabled pensioner Alan Barnes, to whom more than £300,000 was subsequently donated.

The 67-year-old suffered a broken collarbone when he was knocked to the ground outside his Gateshead home in January.

An online appeal set up by beautician Katie Cutler raised £330,135.

Richard Gatiss, 25, from Gateshead, had pleaded guilty to assault with intent to rob at Newcastle Crown Court.

After the sentencing, Mr Barnes said it was "just about the right length of time" and he hoped prison would give Gatiss time to reflect on what he had done.

"I hope while he's in prison he'll do some thinking and when he comes out he'll do something useful," he said.

Gatiss, from Split Crow Road, was caught after police retrieved DNA evidence from a pocket on Mr Barnes' jacket.

Alan Barnes and Katie CutlerAt a news conference after the sentencing Alan Barnes said it would give Gatiss time to reflect

He had been desperate for money to buy legal highs but ran off empty-handed when Mr Barnes shouted for help, the court heard.

Judge Paul Sloan QC described Gatiss' actions as "despicable and opportunistic" and said he had picked on Mr Barnes because he was vulnerable.

'Moved on'

Mr Barnes has lived with disabilities from birth after his mother contracted German measles when she was pregnant. He is visually impaired and stands 4ft 6in (1.21m) tall.

After the hearing, Mr Barnes, who was joined by 21-year-old Miss Cutler, said: "I'm pleased he's been sentenced and I think the sentence of four years is just about the right length.

"I hope while he's in prison he'll do some thinking and when he comes out he'll do something useful. Maybe he might decide to help people, which I think would be a good idea for him.

"It's sad that he was brought to the stage of doing something like this - not necessarily just me, it could have been anybody and they might not have got over the incident.

"But I've moved on," he said.

Holding back tears, Miss Cutler added: "It's hard for me to talk about Richard as it wasn't me who was attacked, but I just hope he gets the help that he deserves.

"I'm just glad that that some good has come from this and we can move forward."

While on remand, Gatiss was kept in segregation for his own safety.

Alan BarnesAlan Barnes suffered a broken collarbone in the attack

Jamie Adams, defending, said it was "an awful case" but publicity surrounding it made it difficult to "keep a proper outlook on what the sentence should be".

On the prison bus to court Gatiss had been "the subject of some pretty awful double-standard behaviour" from other inmates, Mr Adams said.

"Life is not easy for him. He is going to be in the public glare for a long time to come and he knows that."

His father, Karl Gatiss, refused to comment on the sentence outside court but called for legal highs to be banned.

Northumbria Police said the sentencing "should send a message out to those criminals who think it is acceptable to target the vulnerable".

Source: bbc.co.uk

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