Brave Hazel Booker chased handbag thief Arron Little after he swooped at shops in Maidstone
A heroin addict snatched a 90-year-old woman’s handbag just six days after he was given a suspended sentence and a chance to have treatment.
Arron Little grabbed Hazel Booker’s bag outside a parade of shops in Park Wood, Maidstone, on June 13 this year.
The brave victim set off in pursuit and a good Samaritan then recovered the bag from the repeat offender’s flat at Park Wood Parade.
A judge rejected a submission on Little’s behalf to give him another chance and jailed him for 12 months.
“The difficulty I have here - and it is a very profound difficulty - is it involves a 90-year-old woman, a vulnerable person within the community,” he said.
Little, 32, was given an eight-month suspended sentence in June last year for the attempted robbery of a handbag.
He breached it by stealing from shops but on June 7 this year a judge agreed to continue the sentence and added a drug rehabilitation requirement.
But within just six days he snatched Mrs Booker’s bag and ran off with it, Maidstone Crown Court heard.
“She pursued him?” asked Judge Philip Statman. “That is very brave for a woman of her age.”
Prosecutor Thomas Henderson said by chance the son of a woman the victim knew declared he thought he knew who the culprit would be.
He went to Little’s flat and told him in no uncertain terms: “Give it back or I will do you.”
The judge said the daily heroin user had been given “endless community orders” for offences.
John Fitzgerald, defending, said he recognised the “unattractive chronology” leading to the latest offence and Little could not complain about being sent to prison.
But he added: “I invite the court to step back and look at the wider picture and ask if that is the correct approach. There are reasons here to be positive.”
Mr Fitzgerald said the position was “near ludicrous”. Little had been given the opportunity of drug treatment and asked for a Methadone prescription. But he could not provide a positive opiate test to obtain the prescription from his doctor.
“In a moment of desperation, very close to his home, he saw a bag and snatched it,” he said. “He was going to use the money to buy heroin. He would then obtain a positive test.
“It was an act of desperation that was never going to be successfully evaded. Nothing was stolen - perhaps more by luck than design because of the fortitude of the lady.
“Of course, the balance comes down on the victim. Of course, he doesn’t deserve another chance.
“She pursued him? That is very brave for a woman of her age” - Judge Philip Statman
"I ask the court to take a constructive approach for the benefit of society, rather than a short sharp custodial sentence which is unlikely to benefit anybody.”
Little was sentenced to six months for the theft and six months consecutive for the suspended sentence breach.
Judge Philip Statman told him: “Your victim was 90 years old. With the greatest bravery, she walked after you. This was a very mean crime indeed.
“I appreciate coming off drugs when there is a long-standing addiction is very much a situation where there is one step backwards in order to take two steps forward.”
Telling Little he could not grant the request to allow the drug order to continue, the judge added: “Uppermost in my mind is your victim. I simply cannot take the risk bearing in mind your history of offending and your flagrant breach of this suspended sentence.”
Judge Statman commended Mrs Booker for the courage she showed.
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