TWO men have been jailed for a total of 11 years for a terrifying daylight attack in which they mugged a market researcher in the street.
Martin Casey, 27, struck in what was a shockingly similar attack on another woman in the same place in Hartlepool six years ago which saw him caged for two years.
This time he was joined by Philip Hewitson, 31, in another callous attack preying on a lone middle-aged woman as she carried out door-to-door inquiries.
They grabbed her from behind, pulled her hood over her head and pushed her into a busy road before snatching her laptop.
The violent pair denied the robbery when they were snared by police. But a jury at Teesside Crown Court found them guilty after a five-day trial.
Judge Peter Bowers jailed Casey, of Warren Road, Hartlepool, for six years and Hewitson, of the town’s Rodney Street, for five years.
The sentence was welcomed by detectives who investigated the robbery. They said its severity would send out a stark warning to others.
The attack happened at 2.30pm on Saturday, January 15, as Claire Wilson was working in the Hart Lane area of town.
She told the court how she had spotted the pair lingering and became concerned for her safety and made her way to a house hoping to get off the street into safety.
But the occupants in the house she called on were too busy and as she walked to another house the pair pounced.
Despite bravely trying to hold on to her bag, Miss Wilson was pushed into the middle of the road and Casey and Hewitson ran off.
Describing the incident in the trial she said: “I felt this big tug on the strap of my bag and I automatically, stupidly put out my hand to hold it and I was pulling back.
“Then a hand came from behind and pulled my hood up and over and I just fell into the middle of the road.
“The strap broke and they both ran off. I got back on to the pavement where I had been pushed into the middle of the road. I could have been run over.”
Miss Wilson rang police and two PCSOs in Collingwood Road stopped the robbers.
One officer saw Casey, of Warren Road, Hartlepool, hide the laptop bag behind a parked car.
In 2005 Casey was caged after admitting a similar attack when he snatched a 47-year-old woman’s purse in Hart Lane. He was jailed for two years.
That followed a four-year sentence for aggravated burglary when he raided a victim’s home with a knife in January 2003.
Speaking after the sentence, Acting Detective Sergeant Stuart Robinson said: “We are pleased with the sentences given to Casey and Hewitson. Their trial has resulted in substantial sentences which reflect the severity of the crime they committed.
“This should be a warning to anyone contemplating committing a similar offence.”