Thug’s sentence almost doubled

Preston Crown Court

Preston Crown Court

A thug who invaded a pensioner’s home and terrorised him with a knife had his “too soft” sentence nearly doubled by top judges.

avid John Withnall, of Windermere Square, St Annes, held a long-standing grudge against his 70-year-old victim.

The most serious injury was psychological

And at Preston Crown Court in May he was handed a four-and-a-half year jail term after he admitted wounding the pensioner with intent.

The 41-year-old was also hit with an indefinite restraining order to stop him harassing his victim.

Lawyers for the Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC, said Withnall’s sentence was far too lenient.

They pointed to the savagery of Withnall’s crime, his use of a knife and the devastating psychological impact on his victim. And three senior judges at London’s Appeal Court agreed – upping the sentence to seven years and two months.

Lady Justice Sharp said the attack was the climax of a petty grudge Withnall had nursed for two years.

The pensioner, who had no inkling that Withnall’s resentment was about to boil over, was at home watching TV when his attacker stormed into his home last November.

The pensioner was toppled to the ground, before Withnall repeatedly battered him with his fists.

Wielding a knife, Withnall told the victim he was about to die. The assault finally ceased when a neighbour came to his assistance.

He suffered cuts and bruises and a wound to his ear.

“But the most serious injury was psychological as his victim personal statement makes clear,” observed Lady Justice Sharp. “The trauma of the assault was such that he left home on the day of the incident and has not returned since,” she told the court.

The victim, who once managed a thriving company, now feels acutely vulnerable and wary of going out alone.

“He finds it hard to recognise himself,” said the judge, who was sitting with Mr Justice Supperstone and Judge Neil Bidder QC.

Increasing Withnall’s sentence she concluded: “This was a horrible attack with a knife on a vulnerable man after a forced entry into his home. It left him so traumatised he had to leave his home.”