A judge has criticised Kirkham Prison for allowing a “dangerous” prisoner who viciously beat and strangled a pensioner out on day release.
Violent Paul Steadman, 45, robbed pensioner Theresa Cain of her precious last days with her dying husband, after he left her lying in a pool of blood when she refused to give him money for drugs.
Mrs Cain, 78, spent more than a month in hospital, meaning she was unable to say goodbye to her husband John, to who she had been married for 55 years.
At Preston Crown Court, Steadman was jailed for the assault on the “fiercely independent” lady, who has since moved to a care home, where she struggles with memory loss and walks with a stick.
And Judge Stuart Baker said Steadman had been “inappropriately trusted by whoever made the decision you could be released from prison for a day.”
In victim statements, Mrs Cain’s children described how she had been a full-time carer for her husband and took pride in cooking, cleaning and managing the household finances.
But afterwards she told them she didn’t feel safe any more, and was no longer “chatty or social”, or able to remember visits to her residential home by friends or family, leaving her feeling isolated and alone.
The court heard that on the day of the attack, May 4, Mrs Cain, from Fulwood, Preston, had been to visit her husband in hospital.
Lorna Worsley, prosecuting, told the court Mrs Cain’s family became concerned when she did not answer the phone after they tried to give her an update on her husband.
She continued: “When paramedics attended, they said her injuries weren’t consistent with a fall.
“The curtains had been drawn and there was blood splattered throughout and a penknife was found.”
Steadman had been serving an indeterminate sentence, in relation to another burglary at a pensioner’s home, when he was let out of Kirkham Prison on day release and failed to return.
Steadman, of HMP Preston, previously pleaded guilty to burglary, aggravated burglary, grievous bodily harm, assault by beating, two counts of robbery and two counts of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place – all between May 3 and May 5, while absconding.
The court heard that since the age of 11, he had amassed 38 convictions for 96 offences, which included burglaries, thefts and assaults.
Beverley Hackett, defending, described Steadman as having a “dysfunctional early childhood”, having grown up in care with an “institutional existence not only as a juvenile, but as a child and adult”.
Sentencing Steadman to life with a minimum term of 10 years before he is eligible for parole, Judge Baker said: “You were sentenced to an indeterminate sentence for the public’s protection in 2009.
“Nothing I have read about you leads me to conclude that you are any less dangerous now than you were then.
“You have clearly failed to respond to the many previous sentences.
“You committed these offences either on the day or the day after you were released on licence, while you were inappropriately trusted by whoever made the decision that you could be released from Kirkham Prison for a day.
“It is essential for me to give the public as much protection from you that I can. The overwhelming probability is that you will never be released.”