Peterborough man charged with robbing elderly woman blames other man - after changing story from police interview, court told

A man accused of hitting an elderly woman over the head with a rock in an attempted robbery in a Peterborough street has said another man is to blame for the attack - despite not telling detectives when he was interviewed at a police station.

Friday, 18th January 2019, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 5:51 pm

Brandon Cliffe is said to have used a stone or brick to attack the 69-year-old woman in Padholme Road last summer.

He denies the claims - and today took to the witness stand to tell a jury his version of events.

The jury - which is down to 11 members after one juror was taken ill - have heard how the attack took place at about 7pm on July 30 last year.

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It is alleged the woman was walking down the road when a man approached her from behind, hitting her over the head with the weapon before trying to take her tartan shopping trolley.

The woman held on, and two youths came to her aid, with the attacker running off.

She suffered a 4cm gash to the head in the attack.

Cliffe (20) of Pipe Lane, Peterborough, was arrested shortly afterwards near where the attack took place, and was later identified by one of the youths as the attacker - but he denies carrying the attempted robbery out.

The jury heard in police interview, Cliffe said he had been drinking in the subway with acquaintance William Thornton at the time of the attack.

He said Mr Thornton had ran off from the scene, and he had also fled when he was approached by youths - but said he had given himself up when asked to by police.

Cliffe took to the stand this morning, when he said he had seen Thornton carrying out the attack.

He said: “We were walking home, and he ran off. I don’t know what for.

“I was quizzing in my head. I thought it was strange.

“There was a woman ion the floor, crying, blood everywhere, and ambulance there - I see police, and I ran away.”

Samantha Marsh, defending, asked if Cliffe had seen what had happened.

He said: “I saw William run over, pick up a brick and attempt to rob the woman. I saw him do it.

“He picked up a brick from the side of the road and ran over to the woman from behind and hit her on the head.

“I ran away.”

Cliffe said he had ran away because he was afraid he would be recalled to prison for missing a probation appointment.

Cliffe said he had changed his story from when he was interviewed by police because he had a condition which makes him forget things - and since his arrest he had remembered what happened.

He said at the time of the incident, he was not addicted to drugs or alcohol, and was not in significant debt.

The court also heard Cliffe had pleaded guilty to a previous attempted robbery in 2017.

He said in that case he had only acted as a look-out for another man, and had admitted his offending.

The court also heard while Thornton was known to the police, he had no history of violent offending.

Cliffe denies attempted robbery and assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

The trial continues.