Luton men jailed for 26 years after leaving grandfather of 11 with fractured spine during break-in
Two men from Luton have been sentenced to 26 years in prison after attacking an 84-year-old man in his own home as he tried to defend his granddaughter.
Stephen Simons, 45, of Brook Street, and Roderick McDonald, 52, of Toddington Road, were sentenced to 14 years and 12 years in jail respectively, at Luton Crown Court earlier today (Friday), after being found guilty or burglary and grievous bodily harm at a trial earlier in July.
On August 10, last year, the victim was woken at around 5am by the sound of breaking glass and saw two masked men trying to get into his home.
Despite noticing the victim, Simons and McDonald continued to force entry and, once successful, Simons slashed the victim’s hands with a knife.
The pair then tried to force their way upstairs, where the victim’s 24-year-old granddaughter had been sleeping having chosen to stay with her grandfather to support him following another burglary six weeks earlier, during which jewellery intended for his 11 grandchildren was stolen.
When he tried to stop them, Simons proceeded to head butt and kick the victim in the chest, causing him to sustain a fractured spine, bleeding on the brain and broken ribs which required four months of treatment.
They then ransacked the house, where the victim had lived with his wife since 1965 until she passed away last year, but didn’t take anything.
They left after the victim’s granddaughter, who was on the phone to the police, shouted at them to leave.
Simons was identified by several members of the public who saw images taken from CCTV footage issued in a Bedfordshire Police appeal, after the victim’s son-in-law had installed the system following the previous burglary.
McDonald was identified after leaving blood at the scene.
Detective Constable Jason Wheeler said: “Firstly, I’d like to pay tribute to the victim, who was understandably distressed following the incident, but was still able to help greatly with our investigation.
“He showed incredible bravery and strength throughout the incident and aftermath, as well as throughout the trial.
“We are both incredibly grateful for the assistance of the public, who came forward and identified Simons from the CCTV images we issued on our social media channels.
“We can’t tackle crime alone, and it was thanks to assistance from the public that we were able to bring the two men responsible to justice.
“Bedfordshire Police has a specialist team dedicated to tackling burglary crime, which is a force priority. We would always encourage anyone with information on a specific incident to get in touch.”
Simons was sentenced to five years imprisonment for burglary, and nine years imprisonment for grievous bodily harm.
McDonald was sentenced to five years imprisonment for burglary, and seven years imprisonment for grievous bodily harm.
In his letter to the court, the victim said: “I suffered a massive heart attack over thirty years ago and I have a pacemaker and a defibrillator to show for all the heart problems and many heart attacks I have had since.
“But that swinging two-footed kick he gave me to the chest was a knock-out blow.
“I was kicked back about 5 feet and hit the metal radiator. The combination of all the many and serious injuries I sustained in that incident have certainly decreased my lifespan.
“However not all of the injuries that they left me with are visible.
“When I was in hospital they had to put me on morphine because of the absolute agony from my many injuries.
“Hospitals are noisy places at night and every time there was a crash or a bang I was jumping out of bed – thinking I was being attacked again.
“It would upset the nurses as they had me hooked up to so many machines and you can imagine how much pain it caused me, but I couldn’t help it.
“My medical records show that there is not enough oxygen in my blood as I now sleep lightly and breathe shallowly – always listening out, never relaxed. I will never get over this.
“I just cannot, in a letter, really state how much this has shaken my life and that of my children and grandchildren.
“What they have taken from us, more than any kind of material goods or wealth, cannot ever be replaced or restored.”
The victim’s granddaughter, who was at the house that night, said in a letter to the court: “[…] it personally took me months to return to my grandfather’s home of over fifty years.
“The fond memories associated with my childhood and grandparents have been tainted and ruined.
“After the initial burglary (prior to this case) I was already on edge; but this case completely ruined those memories.
“I worried about my grandfather living there and possibly revenge or retaliation attacks.
“This has been a life changing incident for me. Although I was physically unhurt, the mental toll is almost indescribable. I have thought about the incident every single day since last August.
“My grandfather literally would have sacrificed his life to save me and protect his property, and that is something that he should never should have been forced to do, and it is something that I can never repay him for. It reinforced how much I love and respect him, and also demonstrated his bravery.
“I worry about my grandad and the long term physical and mental impact of the trauma he experienced, when he is at a time of his life where he should be relaxed and enjoying his retirement years.”