Octogenarian sat on burglar who tried to steal his model railway collection, court hears

Telegraph Reporters
John Headington tackled Robert Barnes when the intruder tried to steal his model railway collection - ©Stephen Daniels

An octogenarian tackled a burglar who attempted to steal his model railway collection and sat on him with his wife until police arrived to make an arrest, a court heard.

Former railway worker John Headington, 85, and his 57-year-old wife Susan managed to apprehend intruder Robert Barnes at their cottage in Lincolnshire following a break-in on November 20 last year.

Barnes, 28, was carrying a metal butter knife in the front pocket of his jacket and had used a brick to smash his way in to the rural property while the couple slept, a court heard.

Mrs Headington was woken at 1am by the sound of Barnes breaking in through their kitchen door, Lincoln Crown Court was told.

Andrew Scott, prosecuting, said Mrs Headington saw the light on in the upstairs room where her retired husband kept his prized model railway collection and decided to ring the police.

Robert Barnes admitted burglary and carrying a bladed article

Mr Headington, who has had two hip replacements, got Barnes in a bear hug as he emerged from the room carrying some of his most valuable model trains.

"Barnes barged past Mr Headington who fell backwards against the landing wall, Mr Scott told the court.

"As Barnes continued down the stairs he ripped the phone from Mrs Headington but then fell down and rolled on to the floor near some cupboards.

"Mrs Headington sat on Barnes and was joined by her husband who had blood on his arm. He also sat on Barnes and they remained on top of him until the police arrived."

Barnes, who was drunk and told officers he committed the burglary in order to survive homelessness, admitted burglary and a separate charge of possessing a bladed article.

The 28-year-old was sentenced to two years imprisonment for the burglary and an extra four months for the knife offence.

Passing sentence Judge Simon Hirst said the couple acted with "remarkable bravery".