Two men who snatched a frail elderly woman’s purse, which contained money to buy her grandchildren Christmas presents, have been jailed.
Jason Ashton and Adam Hume have been sentenced to a total of 42 weeks’ imprisonment after they conspired together to carry out the opportunistic theft, said Sussex Police.
The victim – who had a walking frame for support and was connected to an oxygen tank due to breathing difficulties – entered Santander in London Road, Brighton, and withdrew £100 from an ATM within the branch.
She then made an enquiry at the customer service desk, at which point she dropped some money. This was returned to her by Ashton, who was also in the branch, said police.
The 78-year-old victim, from Brighton, completed her enquiry and then walked slowly to a nearby bus stop where she met her husband. She was followed by Ashton.
Moments later, Ashton was seen speaking to Hume behind the bus stop. Shortly afterwards, he approached the victim and engaged in conversation, and whilst distracted, Hume took the purse from her handbag, said police.
The suspects ran off but were chased by a witness, who managed to detain Hume. Meanwhile, Ashton walked back to the scene and returned the purse, minus the cash – the £100 withdrawn plus a further £40 already in there, said police.
Officers said both suspects were later identified and charged with theft and appeared for sentencing at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.
Ashton, 45, unemployed, of Walmer Close, Brighton, was sentenced to 22 weeks’ imprisonment and ordered to pay a £115 victim surcharge and Hume, 53, unemployed, of Grand Parade, Brighton, was sentenced to 20 weeks’ imprisonment and ordered to pay a £115 victim services surcharge, said police.
The stolen cash was not recovered, however the victim was reimbursed by a charity.
Investigating officer Detective Constable Dan Aubrey-Smith said: “This was a despicable crime on an elderly woman who has been left extremely distressed by the incident.
“While she was not physically hurt, it has had a significant impact on her health and wellbeing, and her general confidence in going out.
“Ashton and Hume identified an opportunity to exploit their vulnerable victim in broad daylight, and we’re grateful to everyone who has assisted in our investigation to bring them both to justice.”