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Ilfracombe mugger jailed for attack on 'spirited' pensioner

By This is NorthDevon  |  Posted: January 18, 2013

  • JAILED: Lorraine Morris

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A female mugger threw away the cash she had just stolen from a pensioner in Ilfracombe as she was chased down the street by a worker from a building site.

Lorraine Morris attacked 63-year-old Mary Sarsfield in an alleyway after following her from a cashpoint and fled with her purse after the plucky victim refused to let go of her shoulder bag.

The attack was seen by builder Jake Westcott who ran from a nearby construction site to help.

The mugger threw money into the air to try to distract her pursuer but he carried on and succeeded in recovering most of the stolen cash, Exeter Crown Court was told.

Morris, aged 43, of Green Close Road, Ilfracombe, admitted robbery, theft and having a knife in a public place and was jailed for a total of 18 months by Judge John Neligan.

The judge told him:”You mugged a lady and stole her purse containing about £250 and it is clear you had been watching her withdrawing the money from her bank and to that extent you targeted her.

“You went into an alley off the High Street and grabbed hold of her bag and there was a struggle. With great spirit Mrs Sarsfield held onto her handbag and in doing so she damaged her thumb or finger.

“She was extremely shocked, as you would expect, and you threw a lot of the money in the air but retained some of it and it was not long before you were apprehended.”

Mr Nigel Wraith, prosecuting, said Mrs Sarsfield became aware of someone watching her as she took money out of a cashpoint which she planned to use to pay her rent and go shopping.

She was attacked from behind after leaving a newsagent and walking down an alleyway where Morris seized her shoulder-slung handbag.

Mr Wraith said:”The female who grabbed the bag was swearing and shouting for her to let go and calling her a stupid woman. She held on with both hands to avoid it being stolen from her.

“She was calling for help and there were some building workers in the vicinity, one of whom, Jake Westcott saw pushing and shoving going on.

“Morris ran off after taking the purse from the bag and this young man gave chase. The defendant was caught up with and returned some of the money up and threw some into the air and left the area.

“The victim was taken to a nearby shop where she was extremely shaken and upset but unhurt apart from a pain in a finger on her right hand.

“She later made a victim personal statement in which she said she was surprised how much she had fought back and said she did not get the money back straight away and could not do her shopping or pay her rent.”

Mr Wraith said Morris went to her brother’s house nearby with a £20 note clutched in her hand from the robbery.

In a different incident she stole her mother’s bank card and used it to take out £170 cash. She also had a four inch knife in her bag when arrested by police.

Mr Richard Crabb, defending, said Morris has stayed out of trouble for more than ten years despite struggling with problems of drug abuse, depression and mental illness.

He said:”This was not a case of someone following an elderly person who had limited mobility. There was no overt violence, just the grabbing of the bag which led to them both tugging and neither being willing to let go.

“The bag and most of the money was recovered and she says she did not retain any of the cash. She saw this offending as a cry for help.”

He said she was found with a knife at a time when she had been bailed for the robbery and had suffered threats from others living in Ilfracombe.

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