AN “evil” drug addict has been jailed for the “mean and despicable” mugging of a frail 84-year-old spinster who died five weeks later.

Chronic user Michael Brooks, 58, who had a £30-a-day drugs habit, was desperate for a fix when he targeted vulnerable Ora Walton.

He watched her put her purse in her pocket after she collected her £139.61 pension, followed her, knocked her to the ground and then left her injured and upset.

Brooks went on to blow her cash on heroin, Burnley Crown Court heard.

Yesterday he was jailed for five years and four months after a judge said the crime would incite revulsion in any ordinary member of the community.

Afterwards Miss Walton’s great nephew Chris Parkinson, who described Brooks as “evil, cruel, and unremorseful”, said he believed the mugging had contributed to her death.

The court was told Miss Walton had collected her pension from the post office in Todmorden Road, Burnley, just a few streets away from her home, when she was targeted around 10am.

David Macro, prosecuting, said she put her money into her purse, put it in her coat pocket and then put her hand on top of the purse for security and started to walk home.

She got onto Temple Street, a couple of minutes walk away, and then felt a shove in her back. She fell onto her hands and knees and onto the pavement.

Brooks rummaged through her coat pocket, got her purse and ran off, leaving her lying on the ground in shock.

Mr Macro said a man and a woman neighbour, Anne Kelly, helped her up and police were called. She had suffered bruises on her middle finger, a sore knee and her left shoulder was painful and bruised. She was taken for medical treatment.

Miss Walton went on to tell police: "I can't believe there are such evil people who would rob defenceless old people like me."

The former cotton mill weaver, who had lived in the town all her life, died from heart problems on November 21 after spending the last five weeks of her life with the trauma of her ordeal hanging over her, the court heard.

She had lived with and looked after her 87-year-old-sister Amy Parkinson in the Burnley Wood area.

Brooks, who has not worked for years and was on benefits, was said to be disgusted with himself. He had a record of 55 offences, going back to 1974, which included sexual assault. He was convicted of robbery in 1999.

The hearing was told Miss Walton was to tell police the attack had ruined her faith in human nature and turned her life upside down.

She was worried about how she was going to survive without her money, but the local community rallied around her and replaced the stolen money.

Brooks, of no fixed address, but formerly of Parliament Street, Burnley, admitted robbery.

Sentencing him, Judge Simon Newell said the fact he was a heroin addict was in no way at all any form of mitigation as he had chosen to blight his life with drugs.

The judge, who said the robbery was pre-planned and premeditated, added that Miss Walton led a blameless life and her sister had now been left alone.

Judge Newell told Brooks: "She appears to be a lady who was bright, intelligent, had spirit, resilience, tenacity and a kindness of human spirit that you have not."

Louise Kitchin, for Brooks, said: "There were no thoughts to the consequences, clearly, on his part."

After the hearing Mr Parkinson said: “He has been given a reasonably long sentence, so I can’t grumble at that. But it isn’t long enough when you consider that he contributed to my auntie’s passing.

“I have no doubt in my mind that he contributed to her passing away. It’s unfortunate that because of her age we were never going to get more than a robbery charge.”

Detective Constable Mark Whitehead, of Lancashire Police, said: "This is a tragic case and despite the sentence which the family are pleased with, there will never be a happy outcome for the family.

“Ora suffered terrible upset and anxiety after the incident and sadly died from an unrelated heart attack a few weeks later.

"I can only hope that the sentence passed provides some closure for her family."