Attacker jailed after appeal

A Yarmouth woman who escaped jail for trying to rob a pensioner who had helped her has been handed a two-and-a-half-year jail term after top judges ruled her original sentence “unduly lenient”.

A Yarmouth woman who escaped jail for trying to rob a pensioner who had helped her has been handed a two-and-a-half-year jail term after top judges ruled her original sentence “unduly lenient”.

Kerry Haigh, 21, who came from “a very disturbed background” and had been struggling with an alcohol problem since her pre-teens, was on a National Express coach going home in July last year, when she was kicked off in Leicester for drinking on the bus.

Stranded and penniless, she approached a 78-year-old man in the street and, taking pity on her, he paid for a meal in a cafe for her and then, on her request, agreed to buy her a drink in a pub.

However, when it turned out he didn't have enough cash and said he had to go to a cash point, she demanded he give her money instead and started punching him.

The old man slipped to the floor, whereupon she sat on him and continued to punch him, knocking his head on the ground and causing it to bleed.

When the police arrived, she told them that she had started hitting the old man because he was a “pervert” who had made “sexual comments” to her.

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In light of her troubled background, Haigh, of Regent Street, Yarmouth, was given a 12-month suspended sentence, plus a requirement to attend an alcohol abuse treatment course, after pleading guilty to attempted robbery at Leicester Crown Court on January 26 this year.

But that sentence was today challenged by the nation's top law officer - the Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith QC - who successfully argued that it was “unduly lenient.”

Top judges, Lord Justice Latham, Mrs Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Wyn Williams, sitting at London's Criminal Appeal Court, increased her sentence to two and a half years in jail after ruling the original, non-custodial, sentence had been far too lenient.

Lord Justice Latham said: “We can well understand why the judge, confronted with a significantly disturbed girl with a problem with which she could obtain help, decided to give her a chance to see if she could change the direction of her life.

“However the court is faced with a sentence which is unduly lenient in a technical sense.

“There is always room for mercy in sentencing, but all the judge's hopes have been dashed by the fact that the offender simply turned her back on the chance offered her and didn't attend on one occasion for the purposes of treatment and help that the judge hoped would enable her to change the course of her life.”

Lord Justice Latham concluded by saying that, even taking into account the mercy which the judge wished to show and the element of double jeopardy- the fact that Haigh has effectively faced sentence for the same offence twice - two and half years jail was the least she deserved.

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