A man has today been jailed for almost six years for violently robbing a 92-year-old woman in Hackney.
Sanchez Edwards, 28 (21.08.89), of no fixed address, was sentenced to five years and eight months at Wood Green Crown Court on Wednesday, 7 March.
Sanchez was also deemed dangerous under the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and will have to serve at least two-thirds of the sentence.
He will only be released with the agreement of the parole board and the judge imposed an extended three years’ on licence after he completes his sentence.
An order was also imposed by the judge under the Mental Health Act, and he will remain in a hospital under the supervision of hospital staff.
Doctors will decide when the restriction will cease and he will then serve the remainder of his sentence in prison.
He had earlier pleaded guilty at the same court on 15 August 2017 for one count of robbery and has been remanded in custody since that time.
Her Honour Judge Greenburg said at sentencing: “You cannot have failed to realise she was elderly. She was dragged for two metres. You then ran off. The CCTV shows you have followed her, clearly targeting her as she was elderly. The offence is so serious that an immediate custodial sentence is the only option.”
There were also aggravating factors of three previous robbery convictions.
Judge Greenburg also said that there was a significant risk Edwards would commit further offences and cause serious physical or physiological harm to one or more persons.
On 27 June 2017, at about 14:40hrs, the victim was walking north on Hoxton Street in Hackney, N1. She had just been to post a letter and had turned into an alleyway that leads to a medical centre
Unknown to her, Edwards had followed her from the street into the alleyway. As she entered the grounds of the medical centre she was attacked by Edwards from behind.
He grabbed her handbag and made several attempts to pull it away from her, forcing the victim to the ground.
The victim screamed and refused to let go of her bag and Edwards dragged her along the floor until she was in so much pain that she eventually let go. Edwards then ran back into the alleyway and made off.
The victim sustained extensive bruising all over her body, and was left with several cracked ribs. Photographs of her injuries were released to the media at the time.
Edwards was named by several people as being the attacker. Hackney CID launched a major investigation to find him. He was considered dangerous and police were determined to apprehend him before he struck again.
It was established that Edwards was a patient at a medium-secure psychiatric facility in Hackney and had failed to return from unescorted leave from the centre on 17 May 2017. He was a paranoid schizophrenic with a prolific history of drug use.
Edwards was tracked and found to be using buses and travelling through London Underground Stations across London. A number of images were released to the media at the time.
A Crimestoppers reward was secured for information leading to his capture and images were released from various sightings in a bid to warn the public not to approach him. The case also featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme.
On 10 July 2017, officers spotted Edwards in the vicinity of Bethnal Green Gardens, E1. Upon seeing police, Edwards ran away and was pursued. Officers were able to detain and arrest him.
He was taken to an east London police station and subsequently interviewed about events but refused to answer any questions. He was charged with robbery on the same day.
Following sentencing, the investigation team has released CCTV showing Edwards stalking his victim before he attacked her and then subsequently making off from the scene. Her handbag and contents were never recovered.
In a harrowing victim impact statement, the victim explained how she was too afraid to leave her house after the incident and lost her independence. She has re-occurring nightmares and still cannot sleep on her left side due to the pain. She described herself as “a shadow of her former self”.
The victim had recently lost her husband, to whom she had been married for 68 years and served in the Royal Navy. She had been his carer for the last 10 years.
Detective Inspector Paul Ridley, from Hackney CID, said: “This has been an extremely emotive case with scores of officers working relentlessly to identify and hunt down this dangerous attacker. The public also assisted greatly, re-circulating the appeal tens of thousands of times through social media, which led to him being named. The lady has lived her entire life unscathed, yet Edwards’ brutal and callous actions have destroyed this in an instant.
“My investigation team was able to track back the route taken by the victim and then secure CCTV from various locations. Edwards can be seen prowling behind the unsuspecting victim for around 15 minutes, transfixed and waiting for his opportunity to strike away from the busy streets, and then without warning, hauls the terrified victim to the ground, dragging her along the pavement with such force that he inflicts appalling injuries. At no time throughout these proceedings has he ever offered an explanation for his actions, taken responsibility or shown any empathy or compassion towards the victim.”
“When I viewed the CCTV, Edward’s offending history and examined his travel card data, I was confident we had the right man. He had no choice but to enter a guilty plea with the overwhelming evidence against him.
“I sincerely hope that the lady is able to re-build her life following this horrific ordeal.”