Lancashire’s most cowardly criminals of 2013 are today named and shamed by the Evening Post.
We have dug through the archives and today shame the lowest of the low, who have preyed on the most vulnerable.
They include fraudsters who posed as a dementia sufferer’s grandson to fleece him of thousands of pounds to hardened criminals who tried to sexually assault frail pensioners.
As the rest of the county celebrates the holiday season, these low-life criminals are where they belong - behind bars.
Today, Lancashire police’s head of crime, Chief Supt Clive Tattum said: “These are despicable crimes by men who have preyed on the most vulnerable people in our society.”
One of the most sickening crimes of the year was committed by prolific thug Raymond Hayes, 36, of Clifton Street, Preston. He preyed on older victims, waiting for them to collect their pensions from the post office before attacking and robbing them.
An 81-year-old woman was thrown to the floor by Hayes as he snatched her mobile phone and purse as she walked alone in New Hall Lane after collecting her pension.
Hayes has a string of convictions for targeting vulnerable victims and in 2000 he became a suspect in the unsolved murder of Janet Murgatroyd after admitting stealing the 20-year-old student’s belongings on the night she died.
Hayes was jailed for four years and eight months and given a four-year extended.
In another sickening case, greedy fraudster Christopher McKillop forced a 92-year-old dementia sufferer from Samlesbury to accompany him to a Preston bank to draw out £3,200 for rewiring work, posing as his grandson.
He also got more than £900 from an 80-year-old woman and hundreds of pounds from a man in East Lancashire. McKillop, 33, of Russell Terrace, Padiham, was jailed for 26 months when he was convicted of engaging in unfair commercial practice and three counts of dishonestly making false representations. He admitted attempting to commit fraud and making off without payment.
In a similarly sickening incident, Stephen O’Connor, 38, of Callon Street, Preston, attacked Joan Evans, 67, from behind, pulled her to the ground and dragged her along Appleby Street in Preston on May 16 this year.
Even though he was armed with a knife she refused to give up her bag and when two have-a-go heroes heard her screams, they chased after him, caught him and handed him over to the police.
He admitted possession of a weapon and attempted robbery at Preston Crown Court and was jailed for three years by Judge Stuart Baker.
Today, Lancashire police’s head of crime, Chief Supt Clive Tattum said: “Lancashire Constabulary is committed to bringing such offenders to justice and I am sure it will send a clear message to other criminals contemplating taking advantage of such vulnerability that they will be caught.”
One of the most high profile cases of the year was that of escaped convict Ivan Leach, 48, also known as Lee Cyrus.
He became one of Lancashire’s most infamous criminals after going on the run from prison and was sentenced to life this month after being found guilty of committing a string of sexual and violent offences against women.
There were sightings of him up and down the country as he carried out a one-man crime wave, with increasingly violent offences committed against vulnerable and generally older women.
On several occasions while armed and hiding behind a black balaclava, Cyrus stalked and terrorised women. His offending escalated into brutal attacks and knife-point robberies on elderly women alone in their own homes.
He was caught in London after exposing himself to a 45-year-old woman who was walking home.
This year has seen numerous conmen who preyed on Lancashire’s elderly been brought to justice.
Lancaster builder James Stovold, 27, of Brennand Close, targeted elderly residents in the city and charged them for work he didn’t do. He is spending Christmas in a cell as he completes a three-and-a-half year sentence after pleading guilty to two counts of burglary, three counts of theft of a motor vehicle, four counts of damaging property, one count of using threatening behaviour, four counts of dishonestly making false representation and three counts of obtaining services dishonestly.
The year has also been unlucky for the thugs behind shocking £70,000 machete raid at an off-licence in Preston who were jailed for a total of 17 years.
Working as part of a gang, Robert Pinkney, 31, and Michael Bond, 31, were convicted of conspiracy to rob after a group of masked men and one wielding a machete confronted two security guards at an off-licence in Langcliffe Road, Brookfield, on June 12. Judge Russell jailed Bond, of Gorsey Avenue, Manchester, for 10 years and eight months and Pinkney, of Isis Close, Salford, for six years and eight months.