A FRIGHTENED elderly widow who was pushed over and robbed outside a health centre has told how she now has to sleep with the lights on.
Frail Veronica Heyes, 80, who walks with a crutch, spoke out about about her horrific ordeal in the entrance of Geoffrey Street health centre in Fishwick, Preston.
Drug-addled Lynnette Oakey, 34, who was loitering at the gates, had pestered her for a cigarette twice even though the great-grandma, from Callon, Preston, told her she didn’t smoke.
As the pensioner walked to her 10.45am blood test on September 4, Oakey pounced on her and snatched her walking stick to make her lose her balance.
Mrs Heyes, who hit her head, face and wrist as she fell, screamed for help as Oakey, of City Road, Wigan, yanked her handbag strap over her head and fled, leaving her on the floor.
But her escape was short-lived, thanks to two have-a-go heroes.
She needs to be put away. An animal wouldn’t do thisVeronica Heyes
Delivery driver James Owens, who was dropping off goods at the chemist’s, rugby-tackled her to the ground and held her, with the help of passerby Kerry Holder, until police got there, despite Oakey’s attempts to bite them.
Their dramatic intervention was caught on CCTV.
Mrs Heyes, a retired steward at Fishwick Ramblers bowling club, needed to have a brain scan due to concerns over a large egg-shaped lump on her head.
She said: “Her eyes frightened me. She was like a wild thing.
“I felt she was on drugs because her pupils were so big. She looked possessed.
“It was absolutely horrible. I was in a bad way, I was shaking.
“I have bad legs because I need a knee replacement and another knee replacement went wrong, so I rely on my crutch.
“I was a prime target. I was helpless without my crutch. She would have known that – but she knocked it out of my hand and knocked me to the floor.
“She didn’t say anything but my bag had been securely strapped to my front so she had to knock me over to pull it over my head.
“She needs to be put away. She can’t be on the streets doing this to people. It’s happening too often to the elderly.
“An animal wouldn’t do this.”
Mrs Heyes grew up in Beech Hill, Wigan, and worked as a confectioner before meeting her husband Jack, a Leyland Motors worker, with whom she had eight children.
Sadly, he passed away aged 47 from a heart attack.
She had been due to meet one of her sons for lunch after her appointment but never made it.
She said: “I had arranged to meet my son afterwards. I didn’t have my phone. I said I’d only be half an hour.
“I was in hospital the rest of the day.
“I felt empty inside. I couldn’t stop thinking ‘why me?’
“I was a mess, my face was black, my wrist was severely swollen, and there were bruises everywhere.
“My face looked so bad I didn’t want my grandchildren seeing me; the youngest is only three.
“I didn’t go out for three weeks because I was so scared.
“I’m a tough nut – I’m a Wigan girl – but this knocked me for six. I have to sleep with the light on, which I’ve never, ever done in my life.”
Oakey, an amateur photographer who attended Crufts earlier this year, admitted robbery.
She has failed to turn up at Preston Crown Court twice for sentencing and will be dealt with on a date to be confirmed.