A RETIRED GP and his wife have 'had their family home destroyed' after being kidnapped and robbed by a man who has been handed a life sentence.

Preston Crown Court heard Dr Arthur Manuel and wife Frances Manuel were at their home in Baxenden when James Evans, 50, pushed his way in.

Evans, of Sankey House Farm, Whinney Hill Road, Accrington, forced the couple to hand over more than £250, pulled rings off Mrs Manuel's fingers and stole more jewellery.

He then drove the couple, both in theirs 60s, to a cash point after taking the keys of their Mercedes SLK and ordered them to withdraw more money after threatening them with a knife.

However they raised the alarm at the Tesco store in Accrington before police chased Evans and arrested him

He pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery, two counts of kidnap, taking a vehicle without authority, driving while disqualified and drink driving.

Judge Beverley Lunt handed him a life sentence, of which he will be in custody for a minimum of nine years before he is considered for parole.

Dr Manuel stood up and gave his victim statement to the court, and turned to face Evans to state 'you've changed the way we live our lives forever'.

He said:"I am angry he felt he could do this to us.

"For 34 years I've tried to look after her and on this occasion, when it mattered most, I failed.

"I feel so ashamed.

"I have feelings of guilt because I am the one that opened the door that led to the horrific events."

He described the car journey where he said the defendant drove at 70mph in a 30mph zone as the 'most frightening thing he ever encountered', the court heard.

Prosecuting, Emma Kehoe read a statement from Mrs Manuel who said she 'only hopes he never destroys a life again'.

She said: "I cannot put into words the feeling of immense sadness that our special place has been destroyed.

"I live in constant fear of being attacked again.

"Every knock at the door fills me with fear.

"I'm torn, we've spent 40 years making this house our home and this man has destroyed everything with what he has done in a single night.

"It was a horrific nightmare, I never imagined being threatened like that.

"It was an act of pure evil."

The court heard Evans was out of prison on licence when he committed the latest robbery, having serve half of a 12-year jail sentence for a similar crime.

Prosecuting, Ms Kehoe said Evans knocked on the side door of the property at around 9pm on January 7 and pushed Mr Manuel in the chest when he answered the door.

The court heard he shouted 'give me your money' twice before threatening to break his jaw.

All three then went upstairs to get money and the couple gave him £250 and he also took change from a bedside table, the court heard.

Mrs Manuel went to grab a bag under the bed to get some more money out, but found only a knife, the court heard.

Evans then disarmed her and used the knife to threaten the couple and cut the bracelet on Mrs Manuel's wrist, the court heard.

The defendant also forced rings from the fingers of Mrs Manuel and grabbed jewellery boxes.

The court heard Evans then demanded the couple use their credit cards to withdraw money to give to him.

He took the keys to their Mercedes SLK and drove them to the local Tesco in Accrington, still carrying the knife.

Ms Kehoe said Evans 'drove dangerously and narrowly avoided crashing' before reaching the store, approximately 40 minutes after the incident began.

The court heard the couple then alerted staff. who described Mrs Manuel as 'hysterical', and called the police.

Evans drove off and was later spotted at 12.45am on January 8 in Willows Lane driving towards Blackburn Road in Accrington, the court heard.

Following a short pursuit he was stopped by police and found over the drink drive limit, and he was arrested by police.

Defending, Mark Stuart said it was not a 'sophisticated or organised' crime and there was little physical violence or injury.

He said this was shown by how Evans had used no disguise, no gloves, or no weapons.

Mr Stuart said: "He was back on drugs and very short of money.

"He was living on a hand to mouth existence."

The court heard Evans previously had 36 convictions for 115 offences.

Sentencing, Judge Lunt described the experience as 'harrowing' for the couple and said she did not accept Evans had 'any true remorse for what he did'.

She said:"Both of the couple have suffered some serious psychological harm and continue to suffer from that harm.

"I hope it brings you closure. Do not feel guilty, you did what you were supposed to do. You survived."

Evans has also been disqualified for driving for 12 years.