A grandmother was left lying in a pool of blood after being attacked in her own home by a violent inmate on day release from prison.
Theresa Cain was attacked by Paul Steadman, 45, an inmate with a history of violence against vulnerable people who had failed to return to Kirkham Prison.
The 78-year-old spent more than a month in hospital after the horrific attack, meaning she was unable to be with her husband, John, in the last weeks before he died.
“It’s so tragic,” said her son Peter, 42. “The last two weeks of my father’s life, my mother couldn’t be with him because she was in her own hospital bed.”
The couple had been married for 55 years.
In a victim statement, Peter explained: “Due to mum’s head injury she did not understand what was happening to dad and it was heartbreaking having to explain to her time and time again that dad had passed away – this was emotionally draining both for mum and me.
“The injury to her head had robbed her of the precious time both she and my dad had left together after 55 years of marriage.
“As a family, we tried to arrange our father’s funeral trying to involve mum in decisions but ultimately she could not remember making any of the arrangements.
“This is not how 55 years of marriage should end.”
When the attack happened on Sunday, May 4 this year, Peter’s mum had been to visit her husband in hospital.
Peter had been trying to contact her, but sensed something was wrong after a couple of hours and asked his sister to go round.
He said: “My sister rang me to say she had found my mum face down in a pool of blood and an ambulance was on the way.
“I got in the car and drove as fast as I could to the house, just off Watling Street Road.
“There was an ambulance, police cars, police with dogs and I was told I couldn’t see my mum because it was a crime scene.
“I just felt sick with worry.”
Steadman had been serving an indeterminate sentence in relation to another burglary at a pensioner’s home, when he was let out of Kirkham Prison on day release and failed to return.
Peter said: “It left me very angry and bitter that we’ve been let down. Beforehand, my mum was an independent, mobile lady.
“She looked after all my dad’s medication, she was a frequent person in the bank, she would get the bus to town, visit her friends, go for a coffee.
“She rarely does that now. She’s got memory loss issues, she doesn’t remember visitors she’s had, she doesn’t remember taking her medication.
“It’s like she’s got dementia over night.”
Peter said, since the attack, his mum’s confidence has been affected and she has had to move into sheltered accommodation.
Paul Steadman is due to be sentenced for the cowardly attack on Thursday at Preston Crown Court.
The 45-year-old, of HMP Preston, will also be sentenced for other offences committed between May 3 and May 5, while absconding from prison. He has admitted burglary, aggravated burglary, grievous bodily harm, assault by beating, two counts of robbery and two counts of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place.
Victim Theresa Cain’s son Peter, who lives in Bamber Bridge, said: “I want him to go away for life. He should never be walking the streets again. He’s got a history of violent crime which hasn’t improved and he’s a danger to society. My biggest thing that I want answered is why he was let out on day release. I dread to think it would happen to somebody else out there. He was supposed to be serving an indeterminate sentence. He shouldn’t have been walking the streets.”
Prisons Minister Andrew Selous said: “Open prisons and temporary licence are important tools in rehabilitating long-term offenders, but not at the expense of public safety.
“Absconds have reached record lows under this government, falling by more than 80 per cent in the last 10 years, but we have not been complacent. We have made major changes to tighten the system and these have contributed to a 40 percent fall in temporary release failures in the past 12 months.
“In future when prisoners are let out on temporary licence they will be tagged, more strictly risk assessed and tested in the community under strict conditions before being released.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said prisoners could only be transferred to open conditions once they had passed a thorough risk assessment and been deemed suitable.
The spokesman said a review of release on temporary licence has ensured that now any prisoner who during their sentence has absconded, failed to return from a period of temporary release or committed a crime while on it, will not be able to return to an open prison or be granted temporary release again, in the absence of exceptional circumstances justifying it.