North East Wales

OAP attacker's sentence trebled at appeal

Maureen Cunniam
Image caption Maureen Cunniam admitted aggravated burglary, unlawful wounding and actual bodily harm

A burglar who attacked an elderly couple in their home in Denbighshire has had her "wholly inadequate" jail sentence trebled.

Maureen Cunniam, 49, hit Doris Cook, 87, and her husband over the head with a heavy wooden bat when she broke into their home in Rhuddlan, near Rhyl.

She had taken a "potent cocktail" of alcohol and drugs and was jailed for three and a half years in July.

But the sentence was increased to 10 years by the Court of Appeal in London.

Lord Justice Moses said that cancer patient and alcoholic Cunniam was "an unusual criminal to be committing so serious an offence".

He added: "We regard this sentence as wholly inadequate to reflect the gravity of this attack.

"The attack was upon two elderly people who were living at their home and have been forever after prevented from enjoying the rest of their lives."

Broken wrist

The attack happened at the pensioners' terraced cottage in Rhuddlan last April.

Cunniam, 49, had visited the Cooks earlier in the day seeking to borrow money, and was given £2.

She later called at their home again and attacked Mrs Cook, leaving her with a broken wrist and a fractured bone in her hand and needing eight stitches in two cuts on her scalp.

Cunniam told police she was "full of alcohol", couldn't recall the attack and had been taking prescribed medication including painkillers and anti-depressants.

She was originally sentenced on 26 July at Caernarfon Crown Court after admitting aggravated burglary, unlawful wounding and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The case was sent to London's Criminal Appeal Court after Attorney General Dominic Greive QC deemed it "unduly lenient".

Re-examining the facts, Lord Justice Moses, Mr Justice Hickinbottom and Judge Elgan Edwards agreed the jail term was nowhere near tough enough for crimes that "ruined the lives" of the elderly victims - and increased it to 10 years.

Lord Justice Moses said: "We regard this sentence as wholly inadequate to reflect the gravity of this attack.

"The attack was upon two elderly people who were living at their home and have been forever after prevented from enjoying the rest of their lives.

"We think this case is one to be regarded as falling within the most serious bracket.

"The offender repaid the charity of this elderly couple by deliberately returning and attacking them both in a sustained way.

The judges heard how Eric Cook went to his wife's aid after hearing her screaming in their front room and found her lying on the floor, with her head covered in blood.

He wrestled the bat from Cunniam but could not bring himself to hit her.

Cunniam, of Rhuddlan, kicked him in the groin and while he was sitting on a chair she rushed forward and grabbed the bat again. She raised it above her head and brought it down on Mr Cook's head.

She then rifled through a chest of drawers, took money from a bowl, and left the house.

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