A drug addict who subjected a retired doctor and his wife to a ‘horrifying and degrading’ kidnap and robbery after storming into their home has been handed a life sentence.
James Evans, 50, knocked on the door of Arthur and Frances Manuel while they watched television and their four bedroom detached Baxenden home at around 9pm on January 7.
After Mr Manuel opened the door Evans pushed him to the floor before shouting ‘give me your money’.
Prosecuting, Emma Keyhoe, said: “Both he and his wife were terrified.
“He told them he was a ‘smackhead’ and would leave if they gave him ‘all the money’. All three then went to the bedroom where there was £250 on a bedside table which they gave to him.”
Preston Crown Court heard that Evans then prized diamond and sapphire rings from Mrs Manuel’s fingers and stuffed jewellery boxes into his trousers.
Mrs Manuel then found a kitchen knife in a box under the bed which she thought may contain more cash.
Evans, of Sankey House Farm, Whinney Hill Road, Accrington, snatched the knife from her and threatened the couple with it.
The ordeal of the couple, who are both in their late 60s, continued when Evans ushered the couple at knifepoint to their two-seater Mercedes SLK car and bundled them into the passenger seat before he drove off at speed with the intention of forcing them to withdraw money from a cashpoint.
Mr Manuel told the court: “He drove at speeds of around 70mph in 30mph areas. We both thought we were going to die.”
When Evans pulled over at a Tesco store around a mile away to use the cashpoint the couple, who have been married for 44 years, were able to escape into the store and raise the alarm.
Evans drove away at speed and was arrested driving the Mercedes later in the evening.
The cash and some of the jewellery were found in the vehicle.
Evans pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery and two of kidnap at an earlier hearing.
He also admitted taking a car without consent, driving while disqualified and drink driving on the night in question.
Defending, Mark Stuart, said: “This had little or no planning. He didn’t go with a weapon, disguise himself or wear gloves.”
Mr Manuel read a victim impact statement to the court.
He said: “Every day I feel a sense of guilt that I opened that door and failed to protect my wife. I felt powerless in my socks and pyjamas.
"I feared he would kill us. I now wake up several times at night reliving the ordeal, which lasted more than 40 minutes.”
Mrs Manuel said the incident had destroyed any sense of safety she had in her home of 35 years and they were even considering moving.
Judge Beverley Lunt sentenced Evans to life imprisonment with a minimum period of nine years before he is considered for parole.
She described the couple’s ordeal as ‘horrifying and degrading’.
Sentencing James Evans to life in prison, Judge Beverley Lunt said Evans posed ‘a significant risk of harm’ to the public.
The court heard that Evans had 36 previous convictions for 115 offences and had spent many years in prison, including for similar offences of targeting older people in home invasion robberies.
He had been given jail sentences in 2003 and 2012 for robberies involving elderly people.
He had only been released in July 2017 after serving half of a 12 year prison sentence.
On release he immediately absconded from his bail hostel and did not engage with the probation service and so at the time of the Manuel kidnap and robbery he was wanted by police for breaching the terms of his parole.
Judge Lunt said: “You caused serious psychological harm to this couple. There is a high degree of culpability on your part.
“You used a knife to threaten and cut off the bracelet from Mrs Manuel’s wrist. When arrested and despite being in the car with the money and jewellery you didn’t admit your guilt to police officers.
“Instead you answered no comment to all their questions. Another aggravating feature is your previous convictions, which date back many years. I do not accept you have any true remorse for your crimes.
“You are a dangerous offender and determinant prison sentences have not stopped you. You pose a significant risk of harm to members fo the public. These are offences of the utmost gravity.
“A life sentence is justified in this case. The nine years minimum is not a fixed term.
“If you are released any breach in licence will lead to you being recalled to prison. Those conditions will remain for the rest of your life. Send him down.”
The judge then turned to Dr and Mrs Manuelat the end of proceedings.
She said: “I hope this has brought some closure to you after this incident. You did your job on that night. You survived it.”
For the driving offences Evans was handed concurrent jail sentences. He was also given a driving ban for 12 years.