DNA testing has linked a 25 year-old-man to the attack of a disabled 67-year-old that broke his collarbone.

Richard Gatiss later admitted to the assault and was on legal highs at the time of the attack.

Reports of the attack lead to an astoundingly generous surge of online donations for the victim, with the fund for Alan Barnes raising over £330,000.

Gatiss, from Gateshead, attacked Barnes on the 25th of January. He shoved Barnes, who is 4ft 6in, frail and visually impaired, to the floor while he was putting the wheelie bin outside his home. Gatiss demanded money but ran away when the victim began shouting for help.

DNA testing linked him to the assault as Northumbria police traced Gatiss after recovering forensic evidence left on Barnes’ jacket pocket.

Alan Barnes Attacker on Drugs

Gatiss appeared before crown court via video link from Durham prison and admitted to assault with intent to rob. He most likely wanted the money for drugs as it was revealed that he was on legal highs and has a record for drugs in his background.

At a previous hearing, which could not be reported at the time, the prosecutor Keith Laidlaw said: “Legal highs played their part in this. There is also possession of cannabis on his record and there is a drugs background.”
Jamie Adams, of his defence said his client has been separated from other inmates due to strong feelings about the crime, alongside its profile and publicity. He said: “He wishes me to say at this stage that he is shocked, horrified and deeply ashamed of what he did. He has not stopped thinking about Mr Barnes since this awful deed … Necessarily, he is segregated in prison because of the way people feel about him.”

He will be sentenced at a later date and Judge Paul Sloan QC, the Recorder of Newcastle, at the end of proceedings warned Gatiss ‘Jail is likely’.

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Alan Barnes Fund

Original reports of the attack prompted Katie Cutler to set up a fund raising page for Alan Barnes, which was posted on social media sites such as facebook and twitter. It initially aimed to raise over £500, but this rocketed up receiving donations worldwide to reach over £330,000.

When he was presented with the cheque earlier this month he described it as “absolutely like a fairy story” and has given thanks to the public for the donations via a televised interview.

Mr Barnes will most likely use the money to buy a new home as he does not want to return to the area where he was attacked. After the assault he was too afraid to return home and has been staying with his sister and her family while deciding what to do with the money.

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