Armed thug jailed for sawn-off shotgun attack on pensioner

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An armed thug who battered a pensioner with the barrel of a sawn-off shotgun has been jailed for eight years.

Karl Hill, 44, from Dewsbury, struck 65-year-old Daniel Barr repeatedly with the imitation weapon after bursting into the victim’s home in Whitby.

Mr Barr was almost knocked unconscious by ferocious blows to the head and thought he was going to die.

He had been making a sandwich in his kitchen when Hill and his sidekick Dean Firth, 46, appeared in his living room, one of them wearing a balaclava.

The terrified Scotsman was thrown back into the kitchen at gunpoint where Hill, who pressed the butt of the gun to the pensioner’s chin, gave him a “thorough beating” with the single-barrel weapon, landing blows to his head, back and chest, and punching him repeatedly as he demanded Mr Barr reveal where he kept his cash.

The blood-soaked victim was drifting in and out of consciousness as he was dragged upstairs and dumped on his bedroom floor while the raiders rifled through drawers and grabbed some Scottish notes, bank cards and an Omega watch. They then ran outside, where 77-year-old Alan Bendelow, also from Dewsbury, was waiting in a people-carrier to drive the burglars back to their home town.

A police armed response unit stopped the vehicle on the A64 near Pickering a short time later after Mr Barr’s neighbour raised the alarm.

Bendelow - who was cleared of having any criminal involvement in the incident following a trial last month - was at the wheel, with Firth and Hill in the back along with the blood-stained bank notes and the shotgun. All three men were arrested and charged with aggravated burglary and possessing an imitation firearm as part of a joint enterprise.

A jury at York Crown Court found Bendelow, of Halifax Road, not guilty of the charges after he claimed he had no idea what Hill and Firth were up to, and had merely driven them to Whitby.

Firth, of Green Close, Dewsbury, and Hill, of Halifax Road, admitted the offences and appeared for sentence on Friday via video link from Hull Prison.

Prosecuting barrister Pater Sabiston said Hill and Firth - a drug dealer and alcoholic with a history of substance abuse - were under the mistaken impression that Mr Barr had cannabis and lots of money in his house.

He said Mr Barr had met Hill on two previous occasions and the defendant had pestered him with phone calls, asking if he had any cannabis. Mr Barr, knowing Hill to be a violent criminal, said he didn’t have any and hung up, but Hill persisted and managed to persuade Mr Bendelow to drive him to the victim’s home in Bog Hall, Waterstead Lane, where the attack happened in broad daylight on July 2 last year. Police and an ambulance crew were called out and found a trail of blood around the house. Mr Barr was taken to hospital with cuts to his head and bruising on his back and chest.

Firth has previous convictions for domestic violence, battery and fraud. Hill, a father-of-one with a serious alcohol and cannabis habit, has served prison sentences for robbery, blackmail and burglary.

Barrister Chris Dunne, for Firth, said his client had not used any violence against Mr Barr but admitted that he had been selling drugs in Whitby in the weeks leading up to the attack.

Jailing Hill for eight years, judge Stephen Ashurst said he was clearly the “prime mover” and had shown little remorse for the attack. Firth was jailed for six years and eight months.