Killer caused woman's death after dragging her over in Birmingham street robbery

Robert Vickers, who had a string of previous theft convictions, was sentenced on Monday Credit: PA

A violent robber killed an 81-year-old after sneaking up behind her and "forcefully" pulling her over in a street.

Robert Vickers had previously been sentenced to six years and nine months in August 2020 after admitting robbery.

But the drug addict, who was subsequently charged with and pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the pensioner, has now been sentenced to nine-and-half-years.

Vickers, 41, of no fixed address, who had a previous conviction for manslaughter, approached the pensioner from behind in Bromwall Road, Billeseley, near to her home, on January 31 2020.

Peter Grieves-Smith KC, prosecuting at Birmingham Crown Court, said: "Ann Preston was going to the post office carrying her handbag.

"She was described by those who knew and loved her as being fit for her age.

"She was described as being a bit unsteady on her feet. An ulcer on her leg had slowed her down but she was independent and wanted to walk and do things for herself.

"We can see from the CCTV that the defendant grabbed her handbag. Ann Preston resisted unsurprisingly and the defendant pulled the bag with sufficient force causing her to fall on the right side of her body."

Mr Grieves-Smith said Vickers made off with the bag which contained bank cards, keys and cash and that the victim was left in severe pain and was found to have a dislocated shoulder.

There was a "remorseless decline" in her health and after being admitted to hospital with breathing difficulties she died on February 27.

He said her cause of death was pneumonia caused by a broken rib which in turn had been caused by the attack on her.

In a statement her partner of 35 years, Brian Neighbour, said: "She was fit and healthy and fiercely independent. Her company was a joy."

Mr Grieves-Smith said he went on to describe the distress he felt as her health deteriorated where she could no longer look after herself and get down the stairs. He said Vickers had previously been jailed for 11 years for manslaughter.

'You approached her again from behind and snatched her bag'

The offence, he said, involved an argument in a flat which lead to the defendant holding the victim in a headlock. The victim was later found in a cellar with his hands tied behind his back.

Mr Grieves-Smith said: "When you look at his previous convictions time and time again he has committed offences when he has posed a danger to the public".

He said the offence was committed just two months after he was released from his last sentence and that he had been on licence.

In passing sentence Judge Francis Laird KC, who also extended Vicker's licence period by five years, said: "I have read the moving statement of Brian Neighbour and about the devastating effect of her death upon him and his life. She was a determined woman who was in reasonable health for her age.

"You approached her and asked her for directions and then approached her again from behind and snatched her bag. I have watched the CCTV film of the robbery taking place.

"It shows that you pulled the bag forcefully, dragging her over onto the hard pavement as you did so."

The judge said that Vickers had an "appalling" record and that the risk of causing serious injury had been obvious.

He said he had taken into account the defendant's mental and behavioural difficulties as a result of drug use.

Harbinder Lally, defending, said that it was "unfortunate" the victim was not given a second X-ray which would have revealed the fracture to her rib.