Crack addict who mugged Highgate grandmother for �20 weeps as he is jailed for 11 years

A prolific robber and former crack addict wept in the dock today (Friday, October 19) as he was jailed for 11 years for mugging a 91-year-old grandmother from Highgate for �20 and a travel card.

Lynne Elmer-Laird, a member of the Highgate Literary and Scientific Institution, had to undergo an emergency operation to remove a blood clot after the brutal attack in August.

Eric Banton, 49, pleaded guilty at Wood Green Crown Court in north London last month and was sentenced to 11 years in prison today (Friday, October 19).

The Second World War Army nurse was walking in Talbot Road, Highgate, when she felt Eric Banton pulling at her bag on August 14.

She tried to pull away but fell to the ground hitting her head on the pavement.

Jobless Banton, of Northumberland Park, Tottenham, made off with her purse, which contained her bank card, travel pass and �20 cash.

The day before he had been given a suspended sentence for shoplifting.

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With the help of her cane, Mrs Elmer Laird, took to the stand to give evidence.

She said: “My face was black and blue and yellow. I still have injuries here which are taking time to heal.

“My face was such a mess. I couldn’t face going out to see anybody.

“I do go out now with care. I don’t go out very far. I can’t walk very far.

“But I’m getting my confidence back and I’m determined to get on with things.”

Mrs Elmer-Laird graciously accepted an apology from Banton, written in a letter which was passed to the judge.

Prosecuting Mr Nan Owusuh revealed that Banton’s list of convictions dated back to 1979. He has 39 convictions for 64 offences.

Judge James Patrick said: “You were robbing a vulnerable lady to buy drugs. She is determined to gain her confidence back.

“What you did to her must have devastated not only her, but also her family and friends.

“Even your defence lawyer says there is no mitigation for this ghastly offence. I’m told that in your own words you have reached rock bottom.

“You have shown you are unable to live in society. You target the vulnerable. You caused Mrs Elmer-Laird significant plight and injury. “You have a bad record and should have been at a probation meeting when you carried out this offence.

“It is necessary to protect the public from you.”

Banton was told he will have to serve at least half of the 11-year sentence behind bars.