Prison for thief who preyed on shopper, aged 92, at city store
A SERIAL thief who stole handbags from elderly women in Derby supermarkets has been jailed.
John Sowersby wheeled away trolleys on which pensioners had hung their handbags.
He preyed on victims at Asda Spondon and Morrisons, Derby.
One woman, who was 92, had £95 in her purse. Another had sentimental pieces of jewellery in her bag.
The court heard that Sowersby, 54, had convictions dating back to 1974 and included offences of theft and burglary.
Jailing him for 33 weeks, Judge Michael Fowler said: "You have a long history of committing offences of dishonesty. A number of those offences are the sort that most people would not consider possible, in terms of the depths you have sunk."
He said it was very distressing for elderly ladies to have their purses stolen in supermarkets.
"You see their infirmity and realise they're not going to chase after you and will not realise the items have gone until you've made your escape. You pick on them."
Judge Fowler told Sowersby: "You've reached the stage that if you commit these offences again, it's going to be years, not months."
Sowersby, of Taylor Street Ilkeston, admitted two counts of theft at Asda, in September and October, and asked for another offence of theft at Morrisons in October to be taken into account.
Mark Van der Zwart, prosecuting, said Sowersby was arrested in Asda immediately after the October offence after a member of staff saw him acting suspiciously. At the time, Sowersby said he had "mistakenly" taken the wrong trolley but in court admitted the theft. The bag was returned to the 92-year-old woman.
He was identified by police in CCTV footage from Asda for the September offence but the items, worth £180, were never recovered.
"This lady was very upset. Stolen from her were some items of great sentimental value pieces of jewellery – gold crosses, things she had had for years."
Nicola Hornby, for Sowersby, said in the past he had offended to fund drug and alcohol addictions but this time it had been to pay off a debt his son had accrued.