A ROBBER conned his way into a vulnerable man’s home before assaulting him in a cowardly and sickening attack.
George Heath, 53, who has learning difficulties, was left crying on the floor after he was battered and robbed by a man he tried to help.
Mr Heath’s ordeal began when he was approached in the street by the stranger, who asked if he would fill a water bottle at his flat in Grindon, Sunderland.
Once inside, the man demanded cash, before pushing Mr Heath over and reaching inside his pocket to steal £15.
Mr Heath, an epileptic, said: “I was standing in the street and this lad asked if he could fill his water bottle.
“He then pushed me over. I took a bad turn and he put his hand in my pocket and took £15.
“He disappeared on a bike with my money. I started crying, and my neighbour came up.”
Mr Heath, who lives independently with the support of social services, was helped by the neighbour who called 999.
The offender is described as white, about 5ft 8in tall, and between 30 and 40 years of age. He had blond hair, was slim and was wearing a thin black jacket and dark trousers. He made off on a blue mountain bike.
The incident has left Mr Heath, a former gardener, feeling unsafe in his own home, where he has lived happily for the past four years.
“I was terrified, I was shaking,” he said. “He pushed me. I have a bruise on the top of my leg.
“I’m all right for the time being, but I’m worried that this sort of thing will happen again. I hope they catch him.”
Campaign groups against disabled hate crime have branded the case shocking, but say incidents of this nature are all too common.
Una Morris, of Stop Hate UK, said: “Unfortunately, learning disabled people are often targeted by perpetrators of hate crime who perceive them to be vulnerable.
“The victim in this case experienced a particularly distressing incident, undoubtedly made worse by the fact it happened in his own home, a place where he should be safe.
“We wish we could say learning disability hate crime is rare, but it is not.
“For some people it is something that they are living with every day, yet incidents perpetrated against learning disabled people are significantly under-reported.”
Barbara Taylor, of Mencap, said: “Unfortunately, this shocking case is not as rare as people might think.”
Stop Hate UK has a 24-hour helpline on 0808 802 1155 to support those affected by disability hate crime.