Gainsborough

Man jailed for life after carrying out ‘chilling’ knifepoint robberies of vulnerable pensioners

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A man who carried out three knifepoint robberies during just 26 hours targeting his victims in their own homes and leaving them terrified has been jailed for life.

Clinton Sentance carried out the attacks on the homes of pensioners in Gainsborough on March 19 and 20 this year threatening to stab his victims unless they handed over their valuables and then tying them up before fleeing with cash, bank cards and other property.

Sentance, who had previous convictions for similar attacks on elderly victims, was ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years before he can be considered for parole.

The 36-year-old of Tennyson Street, Gainsborough, admitted three charges of robbery and three linked charges of possession of a knife.

Judge Michael Heath, passing sentence, rejected a defence plea not to impose life imprisonment.

The judge said: “These offences and their circumstances were outrageous and chilling.

“What you did could have resulted in the death of any or all of your victims because they could have had a stroke or a heart attack as a result of the terrifying experiences that you subjected them to. What happened to them will always remain with them.

“The sentence is life with a minimum of 10 years. I make this clear to the public that this is not a sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

“It is a sentence of life imprisonment and you will not be released unless and until you have served 10 years. You may or may not be released at that stage. That will be a matter for the Parole Board.

“I shall do everything within my power to protect the citizens of Gainsborough especially the elderly.”

Lisa Hardy, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that Sentance called at the home of an 88-year-old woman in Ropery Road, Gainsborough, on the evening of March 19 and when she opened the door he pushed past her and entered the property.

Sentance took her handbag and emptied out the contents but then said she must have some more cash and dragged her from room to room at knife-point hunting for more money.

He took £80 from a tin which used to buy herself treats.

Miss Hardy said: “He then used the telephone cable, tied her wrists together and bound her to the bannister at the top of the stairs. He left her there to fend for herself.”

Sentance left the house and the victim eventually managed to free herself and raise the alarm.

Within three hours he held up a 75-year-old man at his home in Portland Terrace.

He opened his door to what he thought was his neighbour calling to see him only to find himself facing Sentance who told him: “I’m going to kill you. Where’s your money?”

The victim insisted he had no money on him but Sentance, who again was armed with a knife, then took his bank card and forced him to give him the PIN number.

Sentance cut the telephone cable and used it to tie the man to a chair.

Miss Hardy said: “The victim had the bravery to ask what he was doing. The defendant grabbed a tea towel and stuffed it into his mouth to shut him up.”

Sentance left with the man’s mobile phone, bank card a tablet and some cash.

The pensioner managed to break the back of the chair and, with the remainder of the chair still attached to his body, he was able to make his way to a neighbour’s home for help.

The following day he robbed a 75-year-old woman at her home in the village of Morton near Gainsborough.

He held a knife to her neck and when she screamed for help he stuffed an item of clothing in her mouth. He made off with £140 she had put aside to pay bills.

Sentence was identified from CCTV footage and arrested.

The court was told he had 19 previous convictions for 47 offences.

His last court appearance was in 2011 when he was jailed for six years for a street robbery when he snatched the handbag of an 84-year-old woman, pushed her to the ground and stamped on her face.

David Eager, in mitigation, urged that his client should not receive a life sentence.

He told the court: “This man went completely off the rails. In what amounts to a 26 hour period he committed all of these offences in one spree. He has never committed this sort of offence before.”

‘Despicable in its brutality’

Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Mark Kirwan of Lincolnshire Police, said: “This is a man who committed three extremely serious offences in targeting elderly residents who lived alone in their homes.

“The victims did sustain injuries in what were deeply disturbing incidents that they never should have had to endure.

“I wholeheartedly agree with judge’s comments when he said these crimes ‘could have resulted in the deaths of one, if not all of the victims’.

“It was clear from the outset that we had to work relentlessly until this heartless individual was identified and arrested.

“We committed extra resources and worked around the clock to safeguard the local community and thankfully caught him shortly after the third offence.

“This criminal behaviour was despicable and exceptional in its brutality.

“The victims have been extremely traumatised by these events but have shown incredible bravery and strength during the course of our investigation.

“I hope on the back of this significant sentence, they can be reassured that Clinton Sentance will be off the streets for a very long time and they can move forward with their lives.”