A self-confessed “scum of the earth” who terrorised an elderly woman in her home while carrying out a violent robbery has been jailed for eight years.
Boozed up John Lusher ripped rings from the fingers of 84-year-old Rose Overland and grabbed other jewellery from her and demanded cash.
Lusher took £300 at the bungalow in Leysdown but called it “a pittance” and after hurling her onto a bed told her: “You old people always put money under there.”
Robber John Lusher has been jailed for eight years
Mrs Overland was finally rescued from her ordeal when two grandsons arrived and held the 38-year-old criminal until police arrived.
The victim sat in court with her husband Derek and other family members as a judge praised her for her “presence of mind and courage”.
But Maidstone Crown Court heard Mrs Overland, now 85, was still suffering nightmares and feeling insecure.
Lusher, of Sunnybank Caravan Park, Leysdown, admitted robbery.
Prosecutor Alexia Zimbler said Lusher had tried to con his way into other pensioners’ homes on September 8 last year by asking them to sign a petition protesting about noise from an allotment.
They realised he was drunk and managed to get rid of him.
He then made his way to Mrs Overland’s bungalow in Park Avenue, where she was alone but expecting family to return for a late Sunday lunch.
She was to describe him as “shifty” and having a nasty smell. He asked her to sign the petition but she told him to go away and closed the door.
Soon afterwards her dogs started barking and she saw Lusher climbing in through a window. He pushed her onto a sofa, telling her he would not hurt her.
The boy is to appear at Maidstone Crown Court
“Mrs Overland is quite a feisty young lady,” said Miss Zimbler. “She told him with some force she had no money. He went to her purse and removed £12.”
She refused to give him the PINs for her bank cards. He grabbed her hands and pulled off six rings. He also yanked a chain from her neck and pulled out her earrings.
Lusher took a cash box from a cupboard, broke open the lock and took £300 from it. He demanded more money as he pulled out drawers. He put a pair of Mrs Overland’s tights over his hands.
“He asked for £1,000 or he would kill her,” said Miss Zimbler. “She said he would have to kill her then because she didn’t have that kind of money.
“He slapped her across the cheek, bruising her face. She told him: ‘You are a big man hitting an 84-year-old.’”
Lusher, formerly of Grovehurst Avenue, Kemsley, pulled out drawers and threw them across the room. One hit Mrs Overland on the back.
Her grandsons Mark and Gary Yearley arrived separately to see Lusher walking out of the front door. They detained him and police were quickly on the scene.
Lusher has a long list of previous convictions and was jailed for 30 months in 2012 for burglary and theft.
When asked by his lawyer John Fitzgerald how he would have felt if his grandfather was robbed in the same way, Lusher replied: “Scum of the earth, low life.”
Mr Fitzgerald submitted that Lusher was remorseful, although a report had suggested it was not genuine.
Judge Jeremy Carey said: “Sitting in the dock there I expect he may well believe he acted like scum of the earth.”
The court would have abhorrence for such an offence, said Mr Fitzgerald and very little could be said on his behalf.
Lusher had abused substances since the age of 15 and had been an addict for 20 years.
“It is a life wasted,” said Mr Fitzgerald. “He was released into the community and it was off we go again with a cycle of alcohol and drug abuse. That is how he came to commit this offence.”
Judge Carey told Lusher: “You must have terrified her, behaving in your drunkenness in a way that was entirely out of control. She must have feared very serious violence indeed.
“She conducted herself with real presence of mind and courage in a very frightening ordeal. Only when you realised there was nothing more did you attempt to leave.
“Her grandsons - with very considerable courage - detained you. This brave lady has not exaggerated in any way the symptoms she still has of suffering nightmares and feeling insecure in her home, where she is entitled to feel safe.
“Courts should not underestimate the effect on victims of such trauma, nor do they. It should not be down played.”
"Lusher’s cowardly and disgusting behaviour towards a vulnerable lady shows just what a shameless, ruthless man he is" - DC Richard Allingham
Investigating officer, DC Richard Allingham of Kent Police, said: "Lusher’s cowardly and disgusting behaviour towards a vulnerable lady shows just what a shameless, ruthless man he is.
"He showed no regard for his frightened victim and used violence to attempt to scare her into complying with his demands.
"It is to her credit she was brave enough to support a prosecution against Lusher and I wish her all the best in recovering from her ordeal.
"I’d also like to commend the courage shown by her grandsons, who detained Lusher until police arrived to arrest him.
"While we would never encourage members of the public to take the law into their own hands, their actions meant we brought Lusher to justice extremely quickly.
"Our own officers arrived on the scene within minutes and very quickly gathered sufficient evidence for us to lay serious charges on Lusher hours later.
"There is absolutely no justification for his actions here and I am delighted he will face several years behind bars."