A knife-wielding thug whose car jacking has left two elderly women friends afraid to go out at night was put behind bars for almost five years today.
The pensioners had enjoyed an evening at the threatre and had just got back into their car when Luke Bates opened the driver's door and demanded they get out.
Despite his repeated demands, the 80-year-old driver bravely tried to close the door but he threatened: "give me the keys or I'll stab you" and she realised with horror that he was holding a knife with a nine-inch blade.
"He began squeezing her upper arm forcing her out of the vehicle but she had time to grab her handbag from the rear seat," said Chris Taylor, prosecuting.
Nineteen-year-old Bates drove off in her Ford Ka from the scene outside Bebington railway station, and the two shocked women alerted the police.
About five minutes later at 11.40pm, Monday, October 21, armed response officers spotted the car on New Chester Road, Birkenhead, and began following it.
However, even though police were travelling at 100mph, they were barely gaining on it and as it approached the Birkenhead tunnel authority was given to make an enforced stop.
They caught up and drove into the back of it forcing it to stop.
When told to get out Bates refused and had to be forcibly removed and detained.
Meanwhile members of the public had contacted police and the knife he had discarded was recovered in Caldicott Avenue, Bromborough.
Sentencing him to 46 months' detention, Judge Norman Wright said: "I have seen the knife which has a formidable blade and it must have been an absolutely petrifying incident."
He continued: "You made off in her car and subsequently that night the police began to pursue you. You did not give up or stop, you just gunned the vehicle for all it was worth at speeds in the region of 100mph."
The driver suffered bruising to her arm and both she and her 77-year-old friend have had their confidence shattered.
"It is the psychological harm that is the greatest. We have two ladies in the twilight years of their lives and you have cast a shadow on those twilight years," he told Bates, who showed no emotion.
Liverpool Crown Court heard the driver, whose car suffered £1,700 worth of damage, now feels socially isolated as she is afraid to go out in the dark.
"I wish people would think about what they are doing before they ruin people's lives like this," she said in an impact statement.
They had been out to watch her friend's granddaughter performing at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall on the night of the incident and used to go out every Saturday evening together, but they no longer do so.
Bates, of New Chester Road, pleaded guilty to robbery and dangerous driving.
Paul Lewis, defending, said Bates, who has committed six previous offences, had not deliberately targeted the couple.
"On reflection he doesn't really know why he committed the offences but he appreciates it was a serious and stupid thing to do," he added.