Thug threatened to kill elderly woman on footpath

Mark McSorley

Mark McSorley

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A drug addict who pounced on a elderly woman and attacked her as she walked back from the supermarket has been jailed for 45 months.

Mark McSorley, 33, of Springfield Road, Leyland, left the once confident and independent pensioner frightened to go out, or to use the a footpath she had used for years.

The frightened 78-year-old, who was grabbed by the throat and punched amid threats to "kill her", suffered bruises and scratches and had to stay with her daughters after the incident.

Preston Crown Court heard McSorley, who has 31 convictions, was desperate after being caught shoplifting in the nearby Asda at Clayton Green on December 14 as the security staff already knew him from a previous incident.

Prosecuting, Jonathan King said: "The defendant was abusive but left the store and was seen heading down a path.

"Unfortunately she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She too was returning from Asda.

"The defendant was plainly desperate. She heard running from behind her and stood to one side to let that person go by, but the defendant grabbed her by the front and pushed her into the fence he told her over and over he was 'going to f***ing kill her' and to give him money.

"She did offer her bank card but he wasn't interested. At one point during the ordeal he started becoming tearful and saying sorry - at which point he started to put his fists into her chest several times. Her glasses came off."

The court heard he fled when a witness who knew the pensioner saw what was happening.

The victim was hyperventilating and said she felt like she was going to pass out.

She was treated by a paramedic who saw she had bruising to her chest, a mark on her nose where the glasses had been pulled off, and high blood pressure.

At first McSorley denied attempting to rob her, forcing his elderly victim to attend a police parade, but he later admitted attempted robbery.

In a victim statement the elderly woman said she no longer felt safe, couldn't sleep and can no longer walk to Asda by her usual route, or take her usual bus.

Defending, Darren Lee Smith: "He has a substantial amount of previous convictions, the result of that is when he is released he's released without meaningful accommodation. He resorts to address those personal difficulties with the consumption of excess alcohol. He then falls into a cycle. On this occasion for the first time he had taken heroin "Significantly and at some point, if agreeable, he would like to apologise in person and take the restorative justice programme."

Judge Heather Lloyd called the pensioner "brave and feisty" for trying to fend him off.

She added: "I accept this wasn't a planned robbery.

"You saw this elderly lady on a path. You ran up behind her and you attacked her - you grabbed her by the throat, you threatened to kill her, you punched her on several occasions and demanded money.

"This offence was committed on a pathway which your 78-year-old victim would repeatedly use to go to the shops and the library.

"Until this incident she felt safe and she felt confident. However following the attack she had to stay with her daughters.

"Most particularly her confidence has taken a real knock."

"You targeted a vulnerable older lady."

The court heard McSorley's own mum had a restraining order against him and had served 16 months for affray in 2014.