10:00am Tuesday 22nd May 2012
By Wendy Barlow
A 'DESPICABLE' mugger who attacked a 75-year-old woman as she crossed the street, stealing her purse, has been jailed for four years.
Heroin addict Rebecca Oxley, 37, left her victim Irene Bracewell lying on the street after she was targeted from behind.
When she was arrested she told police that Mrs Bracewell’s injuries were her own fault ‘for not letting go of her purse’, which contained just £15.
Oxley’s actions have been slammed by police and local community leaders.
DC Dave Greenwood said: “Oxley targeted and preyed on an elderly and vulnerable member of the public. She showed no remorse for her despicable actions and I am pleased with the sentence she has been given.
“I would like to praise the bravery shown by the member of the public who chased after Oxley. His courageous actions undoubtedly helped officers to make a quick arrest and secure a successful conviction at court. The local community should be proud that people like this live amongst them. He showed true compassion and should be commended for his actions.”
Coun Mohammed Iqbal, Labour group leader in Pendle, said: “This is a deplorable act and I think she should have received a longer sentence.
“Maybe the criminal justice system needs to realise that attacking pensioners in the street is something the community will not tolerate.”
Burnley Crown Court heard how Mrs Bracewell, a grandmother, had gone into Nelson town centre shopping at 9am because she thought it would be quiet, but she was left with ‘nasty’ bruises and grazes after the attack.
The hearing was told Oxley, a drug addict for 20 years, was detained by two passers-by, who chased her and kept hold of her until police arrived. The purse was recovered.
The defendant, of Cross Bank, Padiham, admitted robbery on March 24.
Sarah Statham, prosecuting, said Mrs Bracewell had just been to the cash machine and had her purse in her hand.
As she was on a pedestrian crossing, Oxley approached her and asked her if she had any change. She said she hadn't.
A short time later Oxley ‘using a lot of force’ tried to grab her purse and Mrs Bracewell struggled.
Miss Statham said Mrs Bracewell was pulled over and fell face forward in the middle of the road as Oxley made off with the purse.
She said David Smith was driving his van past when he saw the robbery. He chased the defendant and was joined by David Marshall. They kept hold of her whilst police were called. Officers arrived a short time later.
Miss Statham said the defendant was interviewed and did not express any remorse. The court was told the defendant was said to have a drug user's record. She had a previous conviction for robbing a 60-year-old man.
Richard Taylor, for Oxley, said she had had a significant drug problem for 20 years, had been desperate for cash and accepted she had "sunk as low as she had done" to behave as she did.
He said: “The unpleasant comments she might have made in interview were whilst she was withdrawing . In the cold light of sobriety, she shows some remorse today. She does, through me, wish to apologise to the court and to the victim."
Mr Taylor added that Oxley was ‘inadequate in many ways and pathetic in the true sense of the word’.
Sentencing, Judge Beverley Lunt told Oxley she had a ‘dreadful record’ and said of the victim: “She was left shocked, she was left hurt, she was left bleeding and you just didn't care. You ran away.”
“In your interview with the police,you showed not one jot of remorse for your victim.”
Judge Lunt made rewards of £250 each from public funds for Mr Smith and Mr Marshall for their ‘bravery and public spiritedness’ in intervening and detaining Oxley.
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