A 23-year-old man has been jailed after pushing an 87-year-old woman to the ground in a horrifying assault and robbery at a Wiltshire church. George Gale pleaded guilty on the morning of his re-trial after a verdict could not be reached in January. He was sentenced to four years in prison.
Gale had entered St Bartholomew's Church, Corsham, on 2nd November 2018 following a thanksgiving service, according to details of the attack that emerged at the original trial.
Phyllis Fry, 87, had been clearing up the church with a friend, L'Nora Olney, before Olney left and waited in her car.
At this point, Gale entered the building and grabbed Fry from behind, causing her to fall to the ground.
"I saw the man stood over me. He shouted and swore. I thought he was going to rape me so I screamed and he left," Fry said at the time. Olney then saw Gale exit the building and flee on a moped. Gale, who is of no fixed address, had stolen Fry's wallet and was arrested the day after the attack, on 3rd November.
Gale later said that his aunt had offered him money to falsely admit to the crime - a claim that prosecutor Mark Ashley called "absolute nonsense".
Ashley explained to jurors: "If there was any truth in that whatsoever he would go straight to the police. All he is doing is trying to wriggle out from what I say is very clear evidence."
Gale has previous convictions, including carrying knives in public and shooting a chicken with an air rifle. In 2016, it was ruled that he would be prohibited from keeping animals for five years.