A teenager who put a cushion over his great grandmother’s face so he could steal money from her has had his 10-year extended sentence of detention reduced on appeal.
Former Brighouse youngster Dion Groombridge, 17, was locked up by a judge last September following the attack on his 92-year-old relative at her flat in Elland.
But his barrister Stephen Wood successfully appealed against the length of the sentence at a hearing before three Court of Appeal judges today.
Rugby player Groombridge was only 16 when he committed the offence last July and Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC described the attack as ‘’truly chilling’’ when he sent the teenager to a young offenders institution for five years.
The judge also imposed a five-year extended licence period after hearing details of the shocking attack which left Groombridge’s great grandmother slumped across her sofa gasping for breath.
Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told Groombridge that a person could only survive for a few minutes without oxygen and he had admitted holding the cushion over his great grandmother’s face for a period of time.
Groombridge told a friend he was going to his great grandmother’s to borrow some money and he would to give him some as “board”, but prosecutor Ken Green said the pensioner refused to hand over any cash.
After the attack Groombridge left the flat in an agitated state, but a few minutes later the victim’s grand-daughter turned up and found her slumped across the sofa gasping for breath.
She was taken by ambulance to hospital and her grand-daughter realised that cash was missing from a purse and a handbag.
Prosecutor Ken Green said the victim’s recollection was vague about the actual incident, but in hospital she told her grand-daughter that Groombridge had “throttled her”.
Groombridge, who previously lived in Whinney Hill Park, Brighouse, was arrested and told officers that he had put a cushion over his great grandmother’s face.
Groombridge said he didn’t know what he intended and described his head as “just going”.
“He accepted that his great grandmother was frail and said he was shocked at what he had done,” added Mr Green.
“He accepted, and realised, that if he had kept the pillow over her face any longer then he might have killed her.”
Bradford Crown Court heard that since the incident the complainant, who had previously lived independently, had suffered a number of falls and was not well enough to return to her flat.
Groombridge admitted the offence of attempting to choke, suffocate or strangle with intent to steal £80 from his relative as well a charge of stealing a similar sum from a friend who had been putting him up about a fortnight earlier.
The court heard that Groombridge had no previous convictions and his school record was described as “impeccable”.
Mr Wood submitted during the Court of Appeal hearing that the sentence passed on Groombridge was too long and that the judge had failed to take account of his youth and good character.
The judges concluded that Judge Durham Hall had been right to impose an extended sentence in the case but reduced the custodial term from five years to four years.
They also reduced the extended licence period from five years to three years.
Mr Justice Stuart-Smith said Judge Durham Hall had overstated the effects of the attack on the victim.
He said while not belittling the fear and shock that would have been caused there was no evidence before the court to suggest that the victim had suffered a heart attack or that her subsequent falls were caused by what happened to her.