Bag thief jailed for preying on elderly women

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A handbag snatcher who left his elderly victim too frightened to leave her home has been jailed for two years.

Gareth Davis, 33, committed the theft in an alleyway leading to the bus station beside the Winch and Blatch store in Sudbury on April 5.

Ipswich Crown Court heard on Thursday that his 79-year-old victim had been walking with a frame when he ran past and grabbed a handbag from her wrist.

Davis, of Raleigh Road, Sudbury, ran from the scene with the bag, which contained £100 in cash, keys and a bank card.

Prosecutor Chris Youell said a member of the public, who had registered with the Police Alert scheme, received a message about the theft, together with a description of the offender, which they recognised as matching that of Davis.

Three days later, Davis committed a similar offence in Waitrose in Sudbury when he took the handbag of a 92-year-old woman from her shopping trolley.

Davis was detained by store staff and subsequently sentenced to four weeks imprisonment by magistrates.

Following the theft on April 5, police searched the home of Davis and found his first victim’s empty handbag.

In a statement handed to Judge Rupert Overbury, the woman said that she had been badly shaken by the theft and had become virtually housebound.

In mitigation, Richard Potts said his client was a former drug addict who had moved to Sudbury from Gwent in an effort to get away from his problems.

At the time of the offences, which Mr Potts described as “out of character”, Davis’ benefits had been stopped and he was trying to get money to provide for his pregnant girlfriend.

The court heard that Davis had appeared in court on 26 previous occasions in connection with 41 separate offences.

Sentencing him, Judge Overbury told Davis: “All members of the public, especially the elderly, should be able to walk without the prospect of being attacked in broad daylight by an individual like you.”