A judge has criticised Kirkham Prison for allowing a “dangerous” prisoner out on day release – who then viciously beat and strangled a pensioner.
Paul Steadman, 45, robbed pensioner Theresa Cain of her precious last days with her dying husband.
The violent thug left her lying in a pool of blood when she refused to give him money for drugs.
Mrs Cain, 78, spent more than a month in hospital, meaning she was unable to say goodbye to her husband John, to who she had been married to for 55 years.
At Preston Crown Court, Steadman was jailed for the assault on the “fiercely independent” lady, who has since moved to a care home, where she struggles with memory loss and walks with a stick.
And Judge Stuart Baker said Steadman had been “inappropriately trusted by whoever made the decision you could be released from prison for a day.”
In victim statements, Mrs Cain’s children described how she had been a full-time carer for her husband and took pride in cooking, cleaning and managing the household finances.
But afterwards Mrs Cain, from Fulwood, Preston, told them she didn’t feel safe any more, and was no longer “chatty or social”, or able to remember visits to her residential home by friends or family, leaving her feeling isolated and alone.
Steadman had been serving an indeterminate sentence, in relation to another burglary at a pensioner’s home, when he was let out of prison on day release and failed to return.
Steadman, of HMP Preston, previously pleaded guilty to burglary, aggravated burglary, grievous bodily harm, assault by beating, two counts of robbery and two counts of possession of an offensive weapon in a public place – all between May 3 and May 5, while absconding.
The court heard that since the age of 11, he had amassed 38 convictions for 96 offences, which included burglaries, thefts and assaults.
Beverley Hackett, defending, described Steadman as having a “dysfunctional early childhood”, having grown up in care with an “institutional existence not only as a juvenile, but as a child and adult”.
Sentencing Steadman to life with a minimum term of 10 years before he is eligible for parole, Judge Baker said: “The overwhelming probability is that you will never be released.”