JAILED: Drug addict dragged elderly woman to floor in bid to snatch handbag
A would-be robber, who dragged a vulnerable 81-year-old woman along the ground in a failed bid to snatch her handbag, was starting a three-year jail sentence today.
CCTV caught Christopher Whitehouse tailing the victim from the Wolverhampton city centre bank where she withdrew £100 from her pension, a judge heard.
The 31-year-old defendant struck as she and her daughter paused at a photo booth in the Mander shopping centre at around 4.30pm on September 10 last year.
Whitehouse grabbed hold of the handbag's handle as he walked quickly passed the pair but the elderly woman, who lives in Wolverhampton, had twisted it around her right hand and was pulled off her feet by the force of the snatch, said Ms Suzanne Francis, prosecuting at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
He could have let go but chose to hang on while trying to wrench the handbag free from her grasp until they reached the top of an escalator from which shoppers started to gather round the pair.
The double dealing defendant immediately changed tack and told people he had caught the woman's bag by mistake and was trying to help her back onto her feet.
The woman's daughter accepted the explanation and allowed him to leave but when footage from a CCTV camera at the shopping centre was viewed it told a different story by clearly showing he deliberately targeted the bag.
'Frightened, worried and shocked'
The victim, who had recently overcome cancer, said of her ordeal: "I was frightened, worried and shocked but I wanted the police to get this man to protect elderly people from him in future."
Mr Jon Roe, defending, maintained: "He is full of remorse for his behaviour and is deeply ashamed. The root of the offending is a drug addiction which stems from the break down of a relationship after which he found himself in hostel accommodation.
"He had taken drugs the night before and this incident was a wake up call that showed him how far he had fallen.
"Since his arrest he has made advances to overcome his drug habit, is attempting to rebalance his life and his family have let him move back into their home."
Whitehouse, from Green Lane, Tettenhall, who had seven previous convictions involving 12 separate offences, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and was jailed by Recorder Nicholas Bacon QC who told him: "This was a cowardly act on an extraordinarily brave lady in her 80s who will never forget this unpleasant episode in her life. It was through luck rather than judgement that her injuries were not more serious."
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