Man jailed for robbing Grandmother - Hemel Hempstead

14/10/2014

Drunken John Wickens was jailed for 15 months today, Tuesday, 14 October 2014, for robbing a Hemel Hempstead grandmother of her car, which was later found burnt out.

Wickens, aged 26, approached Elizabeth May who had pulled up in her VW Polo with her 15-year-old grandson to see her pregnant granddaughter.

Daniel Robinson, prosecuting, told St Albans Crown Court: "Mr Wickens was drunk and made a thorough nuisance of himself."

He approached the car while holding a bottle of Bailey's. After snatching the car keys, he ran into bushes where he separated the ignition key from the others on the ring. Wickens threw the remainder of the keys to one side. While 62-year-old Mrs May and her grandson went to collect them, he got in the car and drove off.

The grandson gave chase and tried to smash the car window. The Bailey's bottle broke on the ground and Wickens left. The car was found burnt out two days later, with some of Mrs May's personal belongings also being destroyed.

Wickens was arrested when the granddaughter called the police after seeing him walk past her house.  In an interview he accepted driving off in the £650 Polo, but said he had nothing to do with it being burnt out.

Wickens of Livingstone Walk, Hemel Hempstead pleaded guilty to robbing Elizabeth May on Bank Holiday Monday, 21 April this year. He had been due to stand trial, but changed his plea before a jury was sworn in.  He also admitted having no insurance and driving while disqualified.

Mr Robinson said Wickens had 30 previous convictions for 122 offences. He is currently serving a 7 month sentence passed at Luton Crown Court in May with a 2-year driving ban.

Defence barrister Richard Storey said: "It was drunken stupidity. His mother died in 2002 and he went off the rails. He has abused vodka and the other spirits." But he said he was supported by his fiancee who was in court.

In his plea to the court Wickens said he remembered very little of what happened.

Judge Andrew Bright QC told him: "You have a long criminal history. This victim was vulnerable. It was an unplanned, opportunistic crime."

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