A Slovakian thug has been handed an 18-year extended sentence after launching a brutal knuckle-duster attack on an 89-year-old defenceless jeweller.
Violent Viktor Lakatos, 42, went on the run after the barbaric attack and the case even appeared on Crimewatch as police sought to track him down using shocking pictures of victim Colin Butlin’s bloodied and battered face.
After being hunted down, Lakatos, who had served a six-year jail term in native Slovakia for grievous bodily harm before coming to this country four years ago, was eventually jailed at Bradford Crown Court on Monday.
The court heard that hard-working pensioner Mr Butlin, who travelled daily to his jewellery store in Keighley, West Yorks., had died a few days after his 90th birthday last summer – never knowing if his attacker would be condemned to prison.
His devastated family said their patriarch had “lost his sparkle” following the attack in November 2014 and all the family had become victims.
Prosecutor Chris Smith told the court that married father-of-two Lakatos was desperate for money after problems with his benefits.
The victim regularly used a taxi to get back to his home near Halifax, West Yorks.
But prosecutor Chris Smith said on the evening of the attack Mr Butlin – who walked with a stick – was followed by Lakatos after he saw the victim was carrying a small rucksack.
Lakatos took the opportunity as he thought that Mr Butlin may have had lots of money on him.
Mr Smith said: “As [Mr Butlin] was unlocking his door to his kitchen he was attacked from behind and said he felt blows raining down upon him.
“He was, of course, defenceless. Knocked to the ground his bag of personal items was stolen. The robber ran away.”
The victim suffered wounds to his forehead which had to be stitched as well as extensive bruising and a fractured nose.
DNA from a silver knuckle-duster left at the scene led cops to search for Lakatos.
In March 2015 an appeal for information about Lakatos was made on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme and police eventually received an anonymous tip-off which led to them finding him cowering under a bed in Keighley.
Lakatos pleaded guilty to the robbery charge at the last minute – as he claimed he had only been acting as the getaway driver.
Mr Butlin’s daughter Linda said in a statement that his hope and positivity in life had turned to despair and doubt following the attack.
Jailing Lakatos for 14 years with a four-year extended licence period, Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC branded his version of events as incredible.
Speaking through a Slovakian interpreter, he told Lakatos: “As robberies go it is within the category that may be described as the worst examples of its kind.
“For you targeted, attacked at his front door, gratuitously and excessively beat with a knuckle-duster an 89-year-old gentleman.
“Not just cruel, not just wicked, not just gratuitous and uncivilised, certainly by our standards, it was cowardly in the extreme. It was barbaric.”
The judge’s 18-year extended sentence provoked angry scenes in the public gallery and family and friends of Lakatos had to be removed from the court by security staff.
At the end of the hearing Judge Durham Hall commended the police work which had led to Lakatos’ arrest and he also praised the role of Interpol and the Crimewatch programme.
Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Ross Wadsworth of Calderdale CID said: “This was a particularly appalling attack against a vulnerable, hardworking gentleman on his own doorstep.
“I hope that the significant sentence passed today will be of some comfort to the victim’s family.”