Lancashire pensioner defeats balaclava-clad robbers with brolly

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
  • Two men and an accomplice who raided a Lancashire farmhouse have been jailed
  • 68 year-old Neil Unsworth suffered a broken nose, finger and two black eyes
  • His wife was sprayed in the face with CS gas during the attack
  • Neil’s 90 year-old mother fought off the two burglars with her umbrella
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Plucky pensioner Mildred Unsworth fought off two balaclava-clad burglars with her brolly as they attacked her 68-year-old son, a court heard.

And later a battered and bruised Neil Unsworth revealed: “She said she was only looking after her little boy.”

My mum ran back into the room and grabbed the umbrella and started banging him on the back of the head with it.

Retired jeweller Mr Unsworth suffered a broken nose, broken finger and two black eyes as he fought with the men during a dawn raid on his Lancashire farmhouse. His wife Frances was sprayed in the face with CS gas in the attack.

But they fled when 90-year-old mum Mildred valiantly steamed in, smashing one of the would-be robbers across the back of the head with a Victorian metal-handled unbrella, while Frances whacked him with a walking stick.

A judge at Preston Crown Court jailed the two thugs and an accomplice for a total of more than 26 years.

Edward Brown, 52, of Hilltop Drive, Rochdale was sentenced to nine years and nine months and Philip Mortlock, 63, of Millbrook Court, Heywood was given nine years and two months after they both admitted aggravated burglary.

Peter Singleton, 53, of Lower Lime Road, Oldham, who masterminded the plot because he was in desperate financial trouble, pleaded guilty to assisting an offender and encouraging the commission of an offence and was given seven years and two months.

The court was told the attack began at around five in the morning when Neil Unsworth went outside his home at Hunters Barn in Old Moor Road, Tatham near Lancaster to feed his hens.

A man wearing a balaclava jumped out and sprayed him in the face with CS gas and began to beat him about the head. A fight ensued and continued in the kitchen where an accomplice sprayed his wife with CS gas.

When Mildred heard the commotion and came to the rescue with her granny’s antique brolly the two raiders fled empty-handed.

Mortlock was arrested later that morning and Singleton, a former acquaintance of Mr Unsworth, was held at Manchester Airport as he tried to board a flight to the Phillipines where he planned to start a new life.

After the court hearing, Mr Unsworth relived the family’s ordeal, saying he thought he had been sprayed with sulphuric acid. “Then he started hitting me, breaking my nose and giving me two black eyes,” he recalled.

“I was down on the ground and I thought ‘I can’t be beaten,’ so I started retaliating. I managed to get my fingers into his mask and that must have been when I broke my finger. I was covered in blood.

“Then I heard screaming from my wife and it was a frightend, blood-curdling scream.

“I went inside and another man was attacking her. I grabbed the second man by the lapels and ended up on my back with the man on top of me.

“My mum ran back into the room and grabbed the umbrella and started banging him on the back of the head with it.

“My wife picked up my dad’s walking stick and started to bang him around the face. He pulled away from me and he eventually ran off.

“We are all very proud of Mum. I’m 68, but she said she was looking after her little boy.

“It was a very frightening experience, but you can’t let these people win.”