Man jailed for targetting elderly and vulnerable people - Watford

09/01/2015

A Portugeuse burglar faces deportation for a second time after targeting a pensioner and attacking him in his Watford flat while he was watching the TV programme Flog It.

Daniel Bessa, aged 34, was jailed for 8 years today, Friday, 09 January 2015, by Judge Stephen Gullick who told him: "I don't know what action the Home Secretary will take, but in my opinion your presence in this country is wholly undesirable."

Bessa is thought to have spotted 86-year-old Stanley Smith as he withdrew cash from the Nat West bank near his flat in Watford town centre that afternoon.

Mr Smith, who has diabetes and needs a walking stick because of his prosthetic leg, went home to his flat above shops in Market Street, Watford. He was watching the BBC2 antiques programme at around 5 o'clock on 26 November when Bessa broke in through a kitchen window.

Bessa did not know that Mr Smith had previously been the victim of a burglary and Herts police's Manhunt team had installed a CCTV camera in his flat. Footage played to St Albans Crown Court showed a curtain half pulled across the sitting room where Mr Smith could be heard watching the programme. Bessa put his head around the curtain. Mr Smith told the police he thought he saw a face and got up to investigate.  He saw nothing, as five foot tall Bessa was hiding, and sat down again.

Bessa, who was wearing gloves, was then seen to pull up his hood and go into the room to start rifling through his belongings. Mr Smith shouted: "I have no money." He put his wallet, that was on a chest of drawers, in his trousers. Bessa grabbed the pensioner by the neck.

Mr Smith was heard to shout: "I will give you a tenner. That's all I have got." As Bessa fled with the £10 brave Mr Smith went after him.

Prosecutor Simon Wilshire said that when the CCTV from Mr Smith's flat was analysed, Bessa was recognised and he was arrested on 02 December.

His fingerprints were scanned and he was linked to burgling the home of an 87-year-old woman in Dowsett Aveneue, Barnet on 19 September 2006. Envelopes containing cash were stolen from the letter box. He was also found with 2 Subutex tablets.

Bessa, of no fixed address, but from Watford, appeared for sentence having pleaded guilty to burgling Mr Smith. He also pleaded guilty to possession of Subutex, a class C drug. He had two previous convictions for five offences in which he had targeted people aged between 59 and 83. These included: snatching a purse from a 76-year-old woman and taking a handbag from a 73-year-old woman in a toilet cubicle.  He was sentenced to 8 weeks jail for those offences in March 2008 and was deported. But he returned to Watford and was sentenced to 21 weeks in April this year for stealing a wallet and a handbag from elderly people.

Mr Wilshire said: "This was the targeting of elderly and vulnerable people for financial gain."

Will Chipperfield, defending, said at the time Bessa broke into Mr Smith's flat he was "fending for himself on the streets." His long term male partner had asked him to leave his home because of his use of heroin. He said Bessa denied putting his hands around his victim's neck and claimed he had not targeted Mr Smith.

But Judge Gullick said: "I don't accept for one minute that it was a random attack. It was a targeted offence." Jailing Bessa he said: "You have targeted elderly and vulnerable people to feed your drug habit. It was an appalling attack on an elderly man in his own flat. He is entitled to the full protection of the law."

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