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The Oldest Profession

'Lonely' pensioner kept 'gagged and bound' in escort's cellar only escaped when 'neighbour heard him screaming'

Published in The Liverpool Echo
19th April 2017


Merseyside
A ‘lonely’ pensioner ambushed by masked men at an escort’s home staged a remarkable escape from a “stinking” cellar where he was imprisoned. The elderly man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was gagged, blindfolded and had his hands and feet bound during a terrifying knife-point robbery, a jury at Liverpool Crown Court heard.

Escort Susan Garside, 53, and her ex-boyfriend Anthony Miller, accept the man was attacked at her home but deny any involvement, and have pleaded not guilty to robbery and false imprisonment.

The jury heard the man began a friendship with Garside after staff looking after his wife, who has dementia, encouraged him to have a “life outside the nursing home” and seek female company. The pair met on sex work website Adultwork.com, where Garside advertised under the name ‘Summer Blackvelvet’.

He told a jury: “I had to have a life, believe me the loneliness was terrifying.” But he later became aware that Garside had an allegedly violent on-and-off ex boyfriend, 49-year-old Miller, who he claims demanded he stay away from her or “be sorry.”

Henry Riding, prosecuting, told the jury the victim ignored the threats, which Miller denies, and had arranged to meet Garside at her house in Roxburgh Street, Walton, on November 4 last year.

He asked the victim, who gave evidence from behind a screen, to explain what happened. The pensioner said: “She told me about a new pet that she had, I went to look at it in the front room. It was a budgie I think.... She stepped back into the hallway and three masked men appeared, and frightened me to death obviously. I was wrestled to the ground and there were three masked faces right in front of me.”

The man said the attackers, disguised by black masks, subjected him to a torrent of abuse and threatened him with a knife which he described as “similar to a machete.” He told the jury he recognised the voice of Miller, who he knew as Tony, saying “I told you not to come back here.”

Mr Riding asked what kind of threats the men were making. The victim said: “Whether or not I would be able to see again or whether they would use the knife to blind me, those sorts of threats; whether I would be able to walk again or still have both my ears, or whether I would have any fingers left.”

The victim told the jury the attackers forced him onto his knees and took two bank cards, a watch and his car keys from his pockets before carrying him to a cellar.

He said: “I was put on a single mattress. It stank, as far as I could tell the mattress was damp. I was left there, the door was closed and it was in darkness.

“They kept coming back, there were two visits from Tony where again he made these threats about stabbing me, and I would lose my eyes.. ... One thing I remember specifically from Tony; he said I would live. But obviously there is a veiled threat there, whether I would live with the benefit of sight or being able to walk I don’t know.”

The jury heard one of the other attackers, who the pensioner did not know, also came down and told him “I will help you through this, don’t listen to the others I’m a professional, I do this for a living.”

The victim described being left in total darkness for a lengthy period of time before deciding to wriggle free of his restraints. He said he managed to rub his feet against a rough surface to loosen the restraints, while managing to pull his left arm free. After removing the other restraints and his blindfold, the jury heard he tried to break down the locked cellar door without success before screaming for help.

Luckily for the man a neighbour heard his cries, and the police broke down the door at 6pm, three hours after he arrived at the house.

Mr Riding said Garside and Miller were arrested two days later at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool city centre. In the meantime £500 had been withdrawn from cash machines using the victim’s bank cards, while his car found crashed and declared a write off by insurers.

Garside later told police she was held at knife-point during the robbery, while Miller, of Hebden Street in Croxteth, accepted he was present but claimed the robbery was carried out by two other masked men.

(Proceeding)