TWO thugs who beat a 78-year-old former soldier with his own walking stick on Remembrance Day have today (Tuesday, April 8) been jailed for a total of 11 years.

Victim Cyril Edmonds left the White Rose pub where he had been toasting fallen comrades and was set upon by 22-year-old Gary Mills and 17-year-old Matthew Putson.

He was threatened with a knife and told to hand over any money he had during the robbery, which happened shortly after 11pm on November 11 last year, in Egmont Road, Middlesbrough.

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Putson was later found in possession of a combined knuckleduster and lock-knife.

Both jointly admitted robbery, having an offensive weapon and a separate offence of burglary with intent to steal.

The victim, who was left battered and bruised, had to crawl along the ground to a nearby house to raise the alarm. His eyesight is said to have worsened considerably since the attack.

Speaking shortly after his ordeal, Mr Edmonds said: "They hit me in the face with my stick, and they took my phone. I had a few scratches on my face.”

Judge Michael Taylor told the pair: “It would have been obvious to anybody that saw him he was vulnerable and elderly.

“In a cowardly way the two of you attacked him, his stick was taken from him, he fell to the ground and you then rifled through his clothing.

“You relieved him of his mobile phone and one of you used his walking stick against him, smashing it against his face.”

Mills, of St Aidan's Drive, Middlesbrough, already had two convictions for robbery in 2010 and has been before a court on 18 previous occasions.

There was applause from the public gallery at Teesside Crown Court and shouts of “Well done judge” as Judge Taylor jailed Mills for seven years, nine months and Putson, of St Aidan's Street, Middlesbrough, for four years.

Duncan McReddie, for Putson, who had taken a cocktail of cannabis and prescription drugs, said: “With the benefit of a clear head he fully understands the terrible nature of this crime.”

Robert Mochrie, for Mills, said he should be given credit for his guilty pleas.

Judge Taylor lifted a banning order on the identification of Putson because of his age and said: “The public are entitled to know what is going on.”

In a statement Detective Constable Marie Appleby, of Cleveland police, said: “This was a cowardly and disgraceful attack on a defenceless elderly man, who was even unable to retreat to the safety of his own home after Putson and Mills threw his walking aid out of his reach.

“I am delighted with the sentences that have been handed to Putson and Mills and hope that they will now realise the severity of their actions.”