Elderly theft and fraud victim left too scared to leave her home

Chesterfield magistrates' court.

Chesterfield magistrates' court.

An elderly woman who had her handbag with her bank card and a sentimental watch stolen from her car has told how she has been left too scared to leave her home.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Tuesday, June 14, how Lawrence Richardson, 21, of Sherwood Avenue, Creswell, threw a rock through 79-year-old Mavis Stokes’s parked car window and stole her handbag with its contents from the footwell.

Prosecuting solicitor Becky Allsop explained Richardson took the handbag to 39-year-old Sarah Fox’s home, on Hazelby Road, Creswell, before using a bank card from the bag with a 17-year-old defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to get drinks, cigarettes and £20 in cash.

Mrs Allsop said: “The complainant had been to the baths at Creswell and she left her handbag in a footwell covered with dusters and in the bag was a pocket watch with a gold chain of sentimental value, a mobile phone and a purse containing bank cards, a diary and stamps.

“She left the baths after 4pm and was approached by a member of staff from the leisure centre and was told her car had been broken into.”

Richardson told police he had been made aware of the handbag in the car on Duke Street, Creswell, and he smashed the car window with a small rock and stole the bag which he took to Sarah Fox’s home and subsequently the 17-year-old defendant used the bank card with Richardson at a Go Local store, according to Mrs Allsop.

Richardson pleaded guilty to theft and fraud after the incident on May 1.

Sarah Fox pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and the 17-year-old pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods and fraud.

However, Sarah Fox admitted handling stolen goods on the basis that she did not go through the contents of the bag and had only removed it from her house and the extent of her involvement will be considered during a Newton Hearing at Chesterfield magistrates’ court on August 2.

But she admitted that by handling stolen goods she had breached a 24-month suspended prison sentence imposed for wounding and she is expected to be sentenced at Derby Crown Court for the breach.

Mrs Allsop said victim Mavis Stokes is now too scared to go out and has introduced a new security alarm system at her home.

Defence solicitor Julie Page said Richardson accepts he was the person who broke into the car and he took the bag and later accompanied the 17-year-old youth to the shop and accepts playing a part in the fraud offence.

She said: “He acknowledges he was stupid to get involved and it was something out of character for him and he should have known better.”

Defence solicitor Ian Carter said the 17-year-old, of Creswell, has no previous convictions and trouble had come to her.

He added: “She’s disgusted with herself and she understands how she would feel if someone had taken her handbag.”

Mr Carter, who also represented Sarah Fox, said the 39-year-old had guessed the handbag had been stolen but claimed the only contact she had with the bag was to remove it from her house.

Richardson was sentenced to a community order with 120 hours of unpaid work and a weekend curfew to run over eight weeks.

He was also ordered to pay £200 compensation, an £85 victim surcharge and £85 costs.

The 17-year-old was sentenced to a six-month referral order and will be required to sign a behaviour contract. She was also ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge, £50 compensation and £85 costs.

District Judge Andrew Davison was keen for victim Mavis Stoles to be reassured that Richardson has shown remorse and is planning to write a letter of apology.