A DRUG addict burglar who subjected an 87-year-old woman to a terrifying ordeal in her Huddersfield bungalow is today behind bars.
But the judge has strongly condemned Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyers for not charging him with a more serious crime.
Judge Robert Bartfield said Paul Steadman’s six-year prison term could have been even longer if he had been charged with robbery rather than burglary.
The judge queried why the implied threat of violence in Steadman’s comments to his victim had not resulted in the 39-year-old facing a robbery allegation.
He took a ring, cash she had saved for her grandchildren and left her living a life of fear.
Judge Bartfield said:
“As far as I’m concerned this man has for no good reason got away with a very serious crime. I am very, very disappointed, to put it mildly. This falls well below the standard I expect.”
Convicted burglar and robber Steadman, of Eastlands in Almondbury, walked into the elderly victim’s Almondbury home on June 30 after he had asked her for directions.
He ordered his terrified victim into her sitting room telling her: “Do as you’re told and you’ll not get hurt. I’m not here to hurt you.”
Steadman then rifled through her bag before sitting next to her and telling her to take off her rings.
She managed to remove one ring and she was then ordered into the bedroom where Steadman told her to sit on a chair while he searched for other property to steal.
Prosecutor John Bull told Bradford Crown Court yesterday that Steadman told his victim not to tell the police or he would be back.
At one point he found tins of loose change – but she pleaded with him not to take it because the money was for her grandchildren. Steadman told her to shut up and took the cash.
In her statement, the victim described how she had been living an independent life for many years, but the burglary had left her feeling extremely frightened to be on her own.
Steadman was arrested later that day by police investigating another burglary and he eventually admitted the offence at her home as well as six other break-ins.
Judge Bartfield was told that Steadman had previous convictions dating back to the 1980s. In 2001 he was jailed for six years for mugging a woman in the street.
Lawyer Neil Murphy, for Steadman, said the only mitigation in the case was the fact that his client had admitted the burglary at the earliest opportunity.
“He fully accepts that this is an appalling offence,’’ said Mr Murphy. “He wants through me to apologise fully for his conduct. It was disgraceful.
“He accepts the upset and distress it would have caused the complainant. He is bitterly ashamed of his behaviour.”
Jailing Steadman, Judge Bartfield said he had calmly gone through his victim’s property until he was satisfied he had got everything – including the grandchildren’s money.
“She has been very badly affected by this at her time of life,” said Judge Bartfield.
Michael Quinn, area Crown prosecutor for CPS West Yorkshire, said: “We fully accept the criticism of the judge in this case. The decision to charge Paul with burglary was made by the police.
"The police have a statutory obligation to refer cases of this seriousness to the CPS so that we can advise them as to the correct charge. It is regrettable that they failed to do so.
“The defendant was charged on July 1 and appeared in court the following day, when he entered a guilty plea. The magistrates indicated that the case was too serious for them to deal and committed it for sentence to Bradford Crown Court.
"Once a guilty plea is entered it is not generally appropriate for CPS to review the charge. We will work with the police to ensure that similar mistakes are not made in future.”