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POLICE PURSUIT: Burglar jailed after escaping Watford hospital in handcuffs

 Published on: 18th September 2023   |   By: News Bulletin   |   Category: Uncategorized

A burglar in handcuffs escaped from Watford General Hospital while being treated after a Taser was used on him during his arrest.

Johnny Doherty, 23, of Santiagos caravan site in Braintree, Essex, fled the hospital after breaking free during a scan.

He had been arrested following a burglary in Rickmansworth, which he carried out with 20-year-old plasterer Patrick Hanrahan, of Coggleshall Road, Sisted, Essex, who was drunk at the time.

Prosecutor Andrew Boulsfield told St Albans Crown Court how the two men were spotted scoping out the home they targeted by a neighbour, who called 999.

They had been driving around looking for empty properties when they spotted the house of their 93-year-old victim, who suffers from dementia.

Smashing their way through glass doors, the two men ransacked the property and snatched jewellery before being disturbed by the police.

Both Doherty, who laid block paving for a job, and Hanrahan attempted to evade arrest but, although the latter man surrendered to custody, his accomplice was less compliant.

While trying to escape in their vehicle, Doherty punched an officer in the eye and grabbed another in a headlock, pulling him into his car before being Tasered.

Both men initially gave false names, but Doherty was identified from his fingerprints while being treated at hospital, before breaking free and leading officers on a pursuit through nearby streets. He eventually gave himself up after being threatened with a Taser again.

In their defence, Shanda McAteer said it was not a sophisticated crime and they had not targeted their victim’s house specifically, believing the property was empty.

Both men had young children and their wives were pregnant at the time of the offence, and were struggling financially under the pressure when they committed what was a “stupid” crime.

Recorder Talwinder Buttar said: “Given the condition of the 93-year-old victim and the fact that she receives two visits a day from carers, I can only infer that she was there when the offence took place, whether she was seen or not.

“Her home was her sanctuary where she deserved to feel safe. Lots of people don’t have money in today’s society, but they don’t break into houses, they go out and get jobs.”

Because Doherty had previous convictions for domestic burglary, she had no hesitation in passing him a custodial sentence which, added to the assaults and escape, added up to 50 months in prison.

In Hanrahan’s case she said there was a correlation between his drinking and offending, and ordered him to attend 15 days rehabilitation, with a 16 months sentence suspended for two years.

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