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Man Jailed for 12 Years After Death of 87 Year Old York Woman

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5:45pm 8th July 2014

A man who admitted killing an elderly woman during a burglary at her home in York on New Year’s Day has been jailed for 12 years.

Peter Anthony John Harris, aged 33, also pleaded guilty to a robbery just an hour later, at another house in York, where there was a 16-week-old baby present at the time.

Harris was sentenced to eight years and nine months for the manslaughter of Elsie Mowbray and four years for burglary to run concurrently.

For the robbery at Turpin Court he was jailed for three years and three months to run consecutively.

Harris, of no fixed address, knocked on Elsie Mowbray’s door in Victoria Court, in the Leeman Road area of York, at around 11am on 1 January 2014.

When Elsie, aged 87, answered, Harris claimed to be looking for his rabbit and pushed his way into the house before making his way upstairs looking for something to steal.

As Harris came back downstairs he was disturbed by Elsie’s son who had called at her home to deliver her morning paper, as he did every day.

At this point Harris struggled with Elsie’s son before forcing his way past Elsie, who fell to the ground and hit her head on the wall with such force that it caused an indentation in the plaster.

Elsie was taken to York Hospital and sadly, she never recovered before tragically passing away on 8 January 2014.

Shortly after the burglary of Elsie Mowbray, Harris made his way into York and to a flat in Turpin Court, in the Fishergate area of the city.

At around lunchtime, he knocked on the door and asked one of the flat’s occupants if he could come in as he needed some money because the police were looking for him.

When the man refused, Harris barged his way in and stole money from a wallet, a watch and a tin containing about £40 in change which was being saved for a baby girl who was in the house at the time of the robbery.

At 5pm on New Year’s Day police called at Harris’s home on Apollo Street, where they found him hiding in the base of a divan bed. He was wearing the watch which was stolen during the robbery at Turpin Court.

He was taken into custody and questioned about the robbery.

On 8 January he was arrested in connection with the death of Elsie Mowbray.

Detective Superintendent Heather Pearson, Head of North Yorkshire Police’s  Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit, said: “Peter Harris knew his victim was an elderly, defenceless woman when she answered the door to him.

“He showed no regard for her when he entered her property and has subsequently shown no remorse.

“As a result of his actions, an otherwise fit and healthy lady has had her life cut short and a family has lost a loved one in tragic circumstances. Throughout the ordeal, subsequent criminal investigation and court processes, Elsie’s family have shown great dignity and composure. 

“I would like to thank the witnesses who supported the police investigation and the criminal investigation team for their hard work and dedication in gathering the evidence that has led to today’s conviction.”

Statement from the family of Elsie Mowbray

The crime committed by Peter Harris caused the death of a gentle old lady and nothing can bring her back, but we hope today’s proceedings can draw a line and our family can start to look ahead to the future and find some peace.

We would like to thank North Yorkshire Police for their superb efforts to bring justice to the perpetrator of these crimes as well as their support during this difficult time.

Following sentencing Mr Justice Lindblom commended the investigation team for their professionalism and sensitivity.


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