A DRUG addict has been put behind bars for robbing an elderly woman of her jewellery and assaulting a police officer.

A jury found Lewis Onwuchekwa, 26, of Newton Road, Tilbury, guilty of robbery after a five-day trial at Basildon Crown Court.

Onwuchekwa also admitted dangerous driving and assaulting a police officer with intent to resist arrest.

The court heard how Onwuchekwa, with another unknown suspect, entered the home of a 94-year-old widow at 4.30am on July 12 last year.

The victim, who had been married for 70 years, was woken up and dragged out of bed before being forced to hand over her wedding ring and engagement ring as well as other jewellery and bank cards.

Sentencing Onwuchekwa today, Judge David Pugh said: "When the victim went to bed that night, she was entitled to feel safe in her home.

"She sustained injuries which fortunately were not serious but she continues to have nightmares."

The court heard how the victim's family must visit every night to check the house before she goes to bed.

Prosecuting Michael Bisgrove said: "The victim still lives in fear. She has been seeing a doctor since the offence and is not sleeping.

"Every night someone goes to her house to turn the lights off and check under the table because she's fightened someone will come out from under it."

Two days after the incident, police attempted to pull over Onwuchekwa in his car as part of their enquiries.

Judge Pugh added: "You attempted to escape arrest by driving dangerously, crashing your car and then assaulting a police officer when he was trying to arrest you.

"You headbutted him, punched him and seized his CS gas cannister."
Mitigating, defence barrister James Wing told the court Onwuchekwa was badly injured in his attempt to escape where he sprayed the officer with his own CS gas.

He said: "His injuries were much more serious than the officer's. They amount to common assault. Mr Onwuchekwa had been sprayed himself.

"The officer did say that he was going to break his wrists  - perhaps understandable but this was a short-lived attempt at use of a weapon."

Onwuchekwa was sentenced to nine and a half years for robbery, dangerous driving and assaulting an officer.

He was also banned from driving for six and a half years.

Detective Inspector Brain Palombella said: “This was particularly harrowing incident that involved an attack on an elderly vulnerable victim and the calculated and callous actions of Onwuchekwa  towards the victim, which will have undoubtedly left her and her family with lifelong mental and emotional scars.

“This was a particularly complex and protracted case that saw the full force of the Grays CID team and our partners called to bear in order to locate, apprehend and compile a high quality case file that has ultimately resulted in a successful prosecution against him.

“This case highlights an excellent example of the lengths that Essex Police will go to, to ensure we continue to serve and protect those must vulnerable in our society and our relentless determination to pursue offenders who target such persons, and the lengthy sentence passed down reflects the seriousness of such cases.

“I would like to pass on my thanks to the victim and her family for their support and understanding.

"I would also like to thank and highlight the efforts of PC Mark Miller and partners whose diligence and professionalism exemplified what we stands for - protecting and serving Essex."

The second suspect is still outstanding and anyone who has any information should contact Grays CID on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Essex Police have confirmed there have been no complaints made by Onwuchekwa in regards to his lawyer's comments about his arrest.