IT was described as a “disgusting” assault on a vulnerable 93-year-old Selborne man, when Doctor Edward Yates, known as Ted, was robbed after being dragged off his mobility scooter by a man who stole his bag.

But, despite the violence, he was able to accurately memorise the number plate of the vehicle the attacker and his accomplice drove off in and the pair were later caught and brought to justice.

The assault happened in August 2016 and, thanks in no small way to Dr Yates, the perpetrators, also responsible for a spate of thefts in the area at that time, were sentenced to a combined 13 years behind bars when tried at Guildford Crown Court in September last year.

As a result, Dr Yates was invited by His Honour Judge Robert Fraser to that same court on January 16 to receive a bravery award from the High Sheriff of Surrey, Robert Napier. Awarded for “real bravery”, the commendation was made in recognition of Dr Yates’ “commendable actions” as highlighted in the trial of Regina versus Keet and Melton.

Recalling the incident, Dr Yates said: “I had stopped as a man came out of a car and walked toward me. He asked me did I know where the dog show was? With that he grabbed my bag and pulled me off my scooter before going back to the car and driving off with another man.

“I lay in the road and a friend, Andy, came running over to help me and I told him the car (registration) number and to call the police. Luckily, I wasn’t badly hurt. I was bruised, and my hands were cut. Our ambulance service was there in under three minutes to take me to hospital. Sadly, I didn’t get my bag back and it had about £80 and all my bank cards in, which was annoying.”

Dr Yates attended the trial, despite some concerns over reprisals.

“I could have had bricks chucked through my window, but I went ahead,” he said.

“Also, they found my DNA on the man who attacked me and. at first, when I saw the men (in court) I felt sorry for them, until I heard they had been preying on elderly people.”

At the end of the trial, Danny Keet, 37, of Cobbetts Close in Normandy, near Farnham, and Wayne Melton, 34, of Lambourne Way, Tongham, were sentenced to a combined 13 years behind bars.

Keet pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted burglary and was sentenced to four years imprisonment. Melton pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted burglary, one of burglary and one count of robbery and was sentenced to nine years.

Having endured the trial, Dr Yates said the commendation had come as a complete surprise, but that he was very pleased to receive it.

Dr Yates has had a distinguished career as a geologist and also served in the RAF, during which time he worked in Cheshire, on the site of what was the end of the last glacial period around 10,000 years ago.

Now aged 94, Dr Yates has lived in Selborne for more than 50 years and is part of village life, being a member of several societies.

He has done valuable environmental work around the area including advising the National Trust at Blackdown to put cattle on the land to graze it to return it to its natural state of heathland. He has also worked for English Heritage identifying ancient woodland.

Dr Yates has also written a detailed book on the history of Selborne, from early man to the present day, called ‘Knights, Priests and Peasants’ with illustrations and photographs, including one of the High Street in 1880 with a small child standing in the road and people chatting near by, before the invasion of the motor car.

Proceeds for the book are going to support St Mary’s Church.

Dr Yates’ wife, Beryl, died 20 years ago, but he has a son and daughter and six grandchildren who regularly visit him and, he says, they are all “very proud” of his latest achievement.