A ‘DESPICABLE’ and ‘disgusting’ thief stole a man’s mobile phone while he was having a stroke.

Emma Jane Woods was yesterday ((FRI)) warned she could be facing a prison sentence after she walked away with a £400 phone belonging to Andrew Moulding as he was suffering a seizure at the Tesco Express in Colne.

Speaking after the hearing, Mr Moulding, 46, said: “I had already had one stroke before I got robbed. And I’ve been back and to from court at least three times before she pleaded guilty.”

In court, prosecutor Eddie Harrison told Burnley magistrates that Mr Moulding had written in a victim impact statement that he felt ‘disgusted by her behaviour when he was in an extremely vulnerable position’.

Mr Harrison said Mr Moulding had been to a friend’s funeral when he called at the Tesco store and began to feel unwell.

He collapsed and members of staff gave him first aid. The next thing he remembered was waking up in hospital after suffering a stroke.

Woods was in the store at the same time in September last year, and told staff that she knew his family. She removed his glasses and his mobile phone and said she would locate his relatives nearby. She had been in a relationship with Mr Moulding’s younger brother.

Staff knew Woods because her name and picture had been included on a circulated list of suspected shoplifters locally, added Mr Harrison.

She left and visited Mr Moulding’s father, passing on his glasses but making no mention of the phone.

Later, when it emerged the mobile was missing, she initially claimed she had forgotten about it but the prosecution said she had intended to keep it.

Woods, 26, formerly of Fulham Street, Nelson, but now of Crabtree Street, Colne, had denied the theft and was due to stand trial but changed her plea to guilty.

The chairman of the bench said pre-sentence reports should be prepared as the victim was vulnerable and known to the victim. She confirmed that a custodial sentence may be considered when Woods returns to be sentenced on March 26.

Laura Heywood, defending, said her client accepted that she had taken the mobile phone but disputed the value placed on it by the victim.

Speaking after the case, Mr Moulding said he was making a recovery after his stroke but had still not returned to work.

“I didn’t even know what had gone on until later on,” he added.

“I am satisfied she has pleaded guilty but she deserves to be punished.”

The court heard Woods had previous convictions for theft and racially aggravated assault and cautions for dishonesty, damage, drugs and violent offences.