Man was attacked in his Wibsey home

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Michael Priestley Michael Priestley

A “despicable” night-time robber has been locked up for 13 years for a terrifying attack on a 74-year-old man who died two weeks after his ordeal.

Cat lover Ken Docker was dragged round his sheltered accommodation flat and forced to the floor by drink and drug-fuelled Michael Priestley, who plundered £2,000 from biscuit tins he found in the wardrobe, Bradford Crown Court heard.

As he fled, Priestley, 43, cut the phone wires and locked Mr Docker in his Incommunities home in the Wibsey area of Bradford.

A distressed Mr Docker, a retired tailor, had to shout from his bathroom to alert his neighbour, Denis Ward, to raise the alarm, prosecutor John Harrison told the court yesterday.

Mr Ward rang the police and they waited about an hour for the Incommunities service to arrive with a spare key to the door.

Mr Docker told officers he opened his door at about midnight on June 27 last year to let in his two cats. He then saw Priestley in his bedroom going through the biscuit tins containing his savings.

Priestley ran at him, grabbed him by the neck of his jumper and forced him to the floor, demanding: “Where’s the rest of your money?”

He searched the living room before fleeing with about £2,000 in cash.

Mr Harrison said in the aftermath of the robbery Mr Docker stayed inside, kept his windows shut and his neighbours scarcely saw him.

His health deteriorated rapidly and he died of natural causes on July 8.

Priestley, who pleaded guilty to robbery and false imprisonment, had previously served sentences of eight years and six years for robbery, the court was told. Then, in 2008, he was jailed for five and a half years for trying to steal from the home of a 67-year-old woman at a sheltered housing complex in Bradford. He was now back behind bars after being recalled on prison licence.

Priestley’s barrister, Simeon Evans, mitigating, said he had no memory of robbing Mr Docker after taking alcohol and heroin. Mr Evans conceded it was a “despicable offence” and he said Priestley hated himself for it.

Judge David Hatton QC told Priestley he was not responsible for Mr Docker’s death but what he did had a devastating effect upon the pensioner.

“You entered his home, you threatened him, you perpetrated some violence upon him, you stole a significant amount of cash from his wardrobe and you terrified him,” Judge Hatton said.

Speaking after the hearing, Detective Inspector George Bardell, of Bradford South CID, said: “Priestley was ruthless in his actions, attacking an elderly man in his own home.”

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