A brave 86-year-old man from Leamington marched a burglar out of his house after he gained entry by smearing himself with tomato ketchup.
The conman knocked on the door of the elderly couple’s home and said he been assaulted and needed to get help, hoping that they would think the ketchup was blood.
But as Taj Ramzan rifled through a drawer expecting to find a large amount of money, the pensioner pluckily took him by the arm and led him out.
Ramzan was caught after the couple’s granddaughter set up a meeting after her ex-partner said he knew who was responsible.
And Ramzan, aged 37, of Station Road, Studley, was jailed for 27 months after pleading guilty at Warwick Crown Court to carrying out the burglary in May with intent to steal.
Prosecutor Anthony Cartin said Ramzan had turned up at the elderly couple’s home in Old Town, Leamington, at 6.30am.
When the 86-year-old husband answered the door Ramzan, who appeared to have blood on his face, said he had been assaulted and asked for help.
“The prosecution say that was a ruse to get in, and that he was targeting the address because he believed there may be a large amount of cash.
“The defendant sidled his way in and made his way straight upstairs and began looking through a drawer.”
But the pensioner followed Ramzan, taking hold of his arm and telling him to leave – and he did so without taking anything.
The couple did not report it to the police at the time, but three days later one of their granddaughters was contacted by an ex-partner who said he knew who the offender was.
She asked him to bring the person to speak to her, and when they met at McDonalds and she questioned Ramzan, he admitted being responsible.
He told her a man called Slim had asked him to commit the offence and provided him with information about the house and where to find what he believed was a substantial amount of money.
Ramzan said he went along with the plan, expecting to share the proceeds with Slim, and put ketchup on his face to make it appear he had been assaulted.
He told the couple’s granddaughter that once inside he had thought of his own grandparents and had thought better of it, and he became upset and said he was sorry.
The court heard that Ramzan had convictions for offences including burglary and robbery up to 2008, but then nothing until last year when he was convicted of five thefts.
Nick Devine, defending, explained that Ramzan had had a substantial drug addiction which he had managed to conquer in 2008, as a result of which he had stopped offending.
But last year he began mixing with old friends again, and that led him back into drugs – and into offending to fund them.
In relation to the burglary, Mr Devine added: “There is evidence he was pointed in the right direction by someone else. His explanation is a drugs debt, and he was told ‘if you go there, you’ll find something worthwhile.’”
Jailing Ramzan, Judge Richard Bond told him: “It is to your credit that you turned your back on crime for eight years, but then you went back to your old ways.
“This was a distraction burglary of an old person who is a vulnerable man simply because of his age.
“There was a lot of planning went into this burglary. Look at the time of day, when people of that age are likely to be up and about, and you chose to deliberately apply ketchup in an attempt to con your victim into showing sympathy for you.
“You were able to gain access to the house, and you were intending to steal a considerable amount of cash you were led to believe was in those premises.
“Fortunately, despite his age, he realised you were up to no good and took hold of you and walked you out of the property.”