A CHESTER robber who struck his 71-year-old victim's head with a roof tile before stealing his wallet is now behind bars.

Chester Crown Court heard on Monday, March 23 that Gareth Steven Roberts, 31, of no fixed abode, had only received a suspended prison sentence four days before the "truly nasty" attack happened on the night of February 21.

Honorary Recorder of Chester Judge Steven Everett told Roberts, who pleaded guilty to robbery, that the people of Chester needed " a good long rest" from the likes of him.

Prosecuting, Mark Connor told the court the victim – a 71-year-old man – had been to the Live Rooms that night and left at 10.30pm, but had missed the bus, so decided to go on a 40-minute walk to his home.

He took a small cut-through at The Mount in Boughton, to get to Sandy Lane.

CCTV evidence later showed Roberts had been following the victim and headed him off by hiding in an alcove near The Mount Inn.

The victim later said in his personal statement that he had seen Roberts acting suspiciously, but had felt guilty for thinking so, and concluded he must have been walking home too.

But then Roberts struck the victim to the back of the head with a roof tile with such force the victim fell to the floor, with his glasses slicing a piece of skin open on his face.

Roberts then casually leaned in, stole the victim's wallet from his pocket, before jogging off.

The victim was dazed and confused, began to walk home and was then assisted by a young man in trying to find the pair of glasses that had been knocked off.

Police attended and recovered a large roof tile that was heavily blood-stained.

The victim was taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital to treat the swelling on the back of his head and required 12 stitches. The court heard he may require plastic surgery for the cuts done to his face.

Police obtained CCTV evidence and tracked down Roberts to arrest him. He made a "no comment" interview.

The victim, in a statement, said he will never walk home alone again, having previously enjoyed doing so.

He kept replaying the shock of the attack in his mind and said he felt guilty at putting his family through seeing him in hospital.

Roberts was in breach of a suspended sentence imposed on February 17 for following a woman through Chester city centre before sexually assaulting her at Hoole Bridge. Judge Everett said it was "inevitable" he would add the four-month prison term for breaching that suspended sentence to the total jail term.

He had convictions for theft as a juvenile in 2005, seven thefts in 2008, criminal damage in 2010, burglary in 2012, battery in 2017, battery and breach of a non-molestation order in 2018, plus failing to comply with a community order in 2018 and 2019.

Roberts's defence solicitor, also named Gareth Roberts, told the court the defendant had pleaded guilty at the first crown court appearance and was very sorry for the way he had acted.

He had had a difficult upbringing which had led him to take drugs, but his offending had slowed down in recent years as he had acquired a job and relationship.

But that relationship broke down, with domestic violence, and the sexual assault conviction caused him to lose his job and home.

He was under the influence at the time of the attack, which was not an excuse but a reason behind the offence, which Roberts said he would not have done while sober.

Judge Everett told him: "The robbery was a truly nasty robbery, in a pleasant area of Chester, quiet at night.

"I hope you have looked at the victim personal statement and seen the terrible effects on him and his family. You had a really nasty effect on him with your nasty selfishness.

"People of Chester, and more generally, need to know that if you behave like this, prison is inevitable. People of Chester need a good long rest from you."

Roberts was jailed for 63 months for the robbery, plus four months for breaching his suspended sentence, making a total sentence of 67 months.

Following sentencing, Detective Constable Sophie Pennington said: “I am delighted that Gareth Roberts is now behind bars, where he can no longer be a threat to the public.

“Five days after being given a suspended prison sentence for sexually assaulting a 25-year-old woman, he assaulted and robbed a 71-year-old man.

“Roberts assaulted him from behind with a roof tile he had picked up off the ground.

“He had previously picked up a large stick as he followed the victim, before deciding to drop it as they approached a pub.

“Thankfully, the victim was able to be discharged from hospital the day after he was assaulted and robbed.

“He received treatment for the head and facial injuries he sustained but the consequences of the incident could have been much worse.

“I hope that the custodial sentence Roberts has been handed by Chester Crown Court gives the victim some closure and enables him to move forward with his life.

“I also hope that this case deters others from committing similar offences.”