A DRUG addict wearing a balaclava robbed a terrified couple in their own home on Christmas Day.
What made the “wicked” crime even worse was that the victims had previously befriended their attacker, giving him work, food, shelter and cash.
But 44-year-old Andrew Paul Hale repaid their kindness with violence, fear and robbery.
And last week he was jailed for four years for the crime.
Jane Davies, prosecuting at Reading Crown Court last Thursday said that Glenna and Richard Winney, aged 63 and 73, had agreed to give Hale £10 on Christmas Day – but he wanted more.
When they refused to give it to him, he left, but got a female accomplice to return with him, knock on their door and ask for a drink of water.
When they answered it, the door was suddenly forced wide open, flinging the Winneys back and injuring them both, said Ms Davies.
There stood a balaclava-clad male demanding money and Ms Davies added: “Mr Winney was pushed over and fell into some furniture.
“The defendant said: ‘Give me the money or I’ll hurt you.’ Clearly they were terrified.
“Mrs Winney said the intruder had really menacing eyes beneath the balaclava. She produced a £20 note from her purse. After being given that, the defendant left.”
The police were called by a neighbour who heard screams, shouts and banging coming from the Winneys’ flat in Vine Court, Newbury.
Photographs of the injuries sustained by the Winneys were shown to the judge.
In a victim impact statement, Mrs Winney said she could not stop shaking after the incident, that she had suffered great physical pain and was now fearful of answering the door.
She added: “I feel anxious, stressed and worried that he’s going to come back.”
Ms Davies said the Winneys had branded Hale “the lowest of the low”.
She added: “They provided him with drink, food, money and work in the past and he betrayed their trust.
“This was a vulnerable couple terrorised and robbed in their own home by someone who saw them as a soft touch.”
Hale admitted one charge of robbery and another of assault by beating. His female accomplice has never been traced.
He also has previous convictions, mainly for drug offences.
Graham Blower, defending, said: “There’s no getting away from the fact that this was a wicked crime; his actions, the lowest of the low, to quote his victim.
“He is disgusted with himself and full of remorse. He was using £50 worth of drugs a day, when he could get it.”
He said Hale, who previously lived at Wentworth Court, Stroud Green, had been homeless at the time of committing the robbery.
Mr Blower said: “His victim would like to know why, as would everybody.
“They are saying ‘why, when we’ve been good to you, did you do this?’
“Drugs have ruined his life. They were a devil on his shoulder.”
The judge, Recorder Jonathan Davies, told Hale: “These people had given you work, fed you and, to some extent looked after you.
“On this occasion they gave you £10 but that wasn’t sufficient for you.
“You realised this couple weren’t in a position to defend themselves if you entered their home and forced them to hand over more money.
“You disguised yourself and returned with an accomplice.”
He added: “You agreed with the description ‘lowest of the low’ and I’m told you are disgusted with yourself – but I can’t imagine any other reaction.”
The judge told Hale he would go to prison for 48 months, concluding: “You can go down.”