‘Robbery was supposed to be scam’ claims man who tied pensioner to stairlift

Alice Turner.

Alice Turner.

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A robber who tied an elderly woman to her stairlift has made sensational claims in court that it was a scam hatched with the victim’s son and other men which went wrong.

Geoffrey Garth, 61, of Patterdale Road, Lancaster, who has already pleaded guilty to robbery, gave evidence in the witness box at the trial of a second man - his stepson Joseph Harkin, 55, of Keswick Road, Lancaster, who denies robbery.

The court previously heard disabled great grandmother Alice Turner, 74, had to chew through silver duct tape to escape and alert police after intruders stole six money boxes containing £750 at her home in Morecambe less than a week before Christmas 2013.

But tattooed Garth, sporting a cut to his eye, told jurors at Preston Crown Court he had been involved in discussing a “scam” to fake the robbery while at Alice Turner’s home with her son and another man.

He told jurors the victim was supposed to have been “out having a bingo night” and insisted Harkin, with whom he was staying at the time, was not involved.

He claimed the plan had been hatched after a similar robbery in Manchester had been discussed which had resulted in the victim’s neighbours having a cash collection.

He also said he had known the pensioner and her family for 30 years, and had bought cheap tobacco from the pensioner and ‘pot’ from her son.

When prosecutor Neville Biddle asked why Harkin’s phone had been used to ring the address the night before the robbery and shortly before the robbery, he replied on each occasion he had seen Harkin’s phone charging on the table and taken it without permission.

Garth said: “Alice, she was near her chairlift. She sat down and said ‘Yeah, get my other wrist.’ I wrapped the tape around her other arm and tore it off.

“Since I’ve been arrested and bailed due to my ill health, I’m getting threatened - I’ve been threatened with a shotgun and had my knee caps shattered.

“To me it was put up to be a robbery but there was going to be a robbery within a robbery. Her grandson told us she had a lot of money there - according to him it was in a hiding place under a bay window in her bedroom.”

He said he had expected her to be at bingo.

The case continues.