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Brave pensioner had heart attack after 'bizarre' assault

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 15, 2013

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A brave pensioner suffered a heart attack as he battled to force a drunken intruder out of his house in the middle of the night.

Anthony Rowland collapsed after being punched to the ground by Charles Unwin, who had walked into an elderly couple's home and made himself at home.

Unwin took off his shoes and socks in the kitchen and then climbed into bed with Mr Rowland's 75-year-old wife Sylvia, telling her that he lived there.

When she pushed him downstairs he picked up the family cat and slumped down on the sofa as if he owned the place, Exeter Crown Court was told.

His bizarre raid ended in tragedy when 73-year-old Mr Rowland came to his wife's rescue and was attacked as he ushered Unwin out of the front door.

He was knocked to the ground and hit at least three times but did not realise how seriously he was ill until police arrived, gave him first aid, and called an ambulance.

Unwin, aged 34, of The Village, Shobrooke, admitted causing grievous bodily harm to Anthony Rowland at his home in Culmstock on April 22 last year.

He was spared jail at Exeter Crown Court after Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, said it was highly likely that Unwin's strange behaviour was caused by his drinks being spiked.

The judge jailed him on Friday for 16 months, suspended for two years, and told him his behaviour had been bizarre. He said: "Everyone speaks very well of you and you have no relevant previous convictions. This was totally out of character and is inexplicable save for one respect.

"I am willing to accept something was put into your drink which affected your mental state. I have known other cases where drinks were laced."

The court heard that Mr Rowland had yet to fully recover following the ordeal.

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