A “dangerous” prisoner has been jailed for life for robbing a grandmother of her last days with her dying husband by brutally attacking her in her own home while on day release.
Violent Paul Steadman, 45, left pensioner Theresa Cain lying in a pool of her own blood after beating and strangling her when she refused to give him money for drugs.
Mrs Cain, 78, spent more than a month in hospital after the horrific attack, meaning she was unable to say goodbye for her husband John, who she had been married to for 55 years.
At Preston Crown Court today, Steadman was jailed for the assault on the “fiercely independent” lady, who has since been resigned to a care home where she struggles with memory loss and relies on the use of a stick to move around.
In victim impact statements read out to the court, Mrs Cain’s children described how before the attack, she was a a full-time carer for her late husband John, and took pride in cooking, cleaning and managing the household finances.
But afterwards she told them she didn’t feel safe anymore, and was no longer “chatty or social” or able to remember visits to her residential home by friends or family, leaving her feeling isolated and alone.
Her daughter, Margaret Cain said: “Before the attack, my mother was a fit and competent 78-year-old and a full-time carer to my father.
“The only help she received was when a carer came to transfer my father from his bed to his chair.
“After the attack she spent four weeks in hospital, during which my father also died.
“During the 55 years they were married they were inseparable. They should have been able to spend those last weeks together.
“I’m never going to be able to forget these tragic events.”
Describing to the court how the attack had affected him, Mrs Cain’s son Peter, 42, said: “It’s so tragic.
“Mum’s life has changed forever. It’s resulted in a reduction in her standard of living. She thinks no-one cares.”
The court that on the day of the attack, on Sunday, May 4 this year, Peter’s mum, from Preston, Lancs., had been to visit her husband in hospital.
Prosecutor Miss Worsley told the court how Mrs Cain’s family became concerned when she didn’t answer the phone after they tried to contact her to give her an update on her husband.
Miss Worsley said: “When paramedics attended, they said her injuries weren’t consistent with a fall. The curtains had been drawn and there was blood splattered throughout and a penknife was found on the floor.
“There was bruising to the mouth, neck, ear and back of the head. The bruising to the right side of the neck was indicative to attempts of strangulation.”
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.”
Steadman, of HMP Preston, previously pleaded guilty to 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 - all offences committed between May 3 and May 5, while absconding from prison.
The court that since the age of 11, he has 38 previous convictions for 96 offences, which include burglaries, thefts, assaults and drugs offences.
Miss Beverley Hackett, defending, described him as having a “dysfunctional early childhood”, having grown up in care with an “institutional existence not only as a juvenile, but as a child and also as a adult”.
“The defendant had over a period of time, the desire to apologise to the victims and the victims’ families,” said Miss Hackett.
“The most important thing he did to protect the community was to hand himself in.
“There are no excuses for the way he behaved and the suffering of his victims and their families as a consequence of his offending.”
Jailing Steadman to life imprisonment with a minimum term of ten years before he is eligible for parole, Judge Stuart Baker
“There’s no doubt, none at all, that you are a dangerous offender and a very dangerous offender at that.
“You were sentenced to a determinate sentence for the public’s protection in 2009. Nothing I have read about you...leads me to conclude that you are any less dangerous now than you were then.
“This involves targeting an elderly and therefore vulnerable lady. It involved breaking into her home, beating her to the end, cutting her face, gripping her throat and then callously leaving her to her fate on the floor which to all you knew could have been leave her to die.
“You have robbed this lady not only of her belongings but of her independence, her unassisted mobility, her short term memory, her ability to manage her affairs, her ability to enjoy life and cruellest of all, her ability to be with and care for her husband in his last days.
“You have clearly failed to respond to the many previous sentences that have been imposed, in the fact that you committed these offences either on the day or the day after you were released on licence while you were clearly and inappropriately trusted by whoever made the decision that you could be released from Kirkham Open Prison for a day.
“It is essential for me to give the public as much protection from you that I can.
“The overwhelming probability is that you will never be released from prison.”
Speaking outside court, Mrs Cain’s children, Peter, Margaret and John, said: “No sentence can compensate for the pain, loss and permanent injury to our family brought about by Paul Steadman, a violent career criminal that preys on the vulnerable in society whom had absconded from prison.
“We of course welcome the life sentence handed out today.
“The warning signs were evident when he was last sentenced in 2009 to an indeterminate period in prison when the then, Judge Bartfield, said that
he should never be released until he was no longer a danger to the elderly.
“Paul Steadman has however duped some fool into the prison and parole service and after serving his minimum sentence, was granted day release with devastating consequences.
“We now look forward to meeting the Governor of HMP Kirkham for the prison and parole service to answer for their failings.”