New appeal to find thief who stole OAP’s purse

The late Irene Ditcher who was killed in a road accident and whose handbag was stolen as she lay dying
The late Irene Ditcher who was killed in a road accident and whose handbag was stolen as she lay dying

POLICE probing a crime that sickened the borough have made a fresh appeal for witnesses.

More than four months have now elapsed since pensioner Irene Ditcher was injured in a fatal road collision in Leigh - and someone stole her purse as she lay dying.

It was a theft that caused widespread disgust and shock, and was further compounded by reports that other onlookers also filmed the horrific aftermath of the accident on their cameras.

Four men - aged 35, 40, 43 and 47 - were later arrested on suspicion of stealing from the 82-year-old but police later released them saying they were taking no further action.

Today a new call was made to witnesses to the crime and accident and to anyone else who knows who was responsible for the theft to come forward.

DC Brian Johnston of GMP’s Wigan Division said: “Unfortunately we haven’t had any information come through that has led to a significant arrest but we are still keen to speak to anybody who can help with the investigation.

“Understandably this incident has caused outrage in the local community as people are disgusted that somebody would stoop so low as to steal from somebody as they are lying dead on the ground. If anybody has any information then we would urge them to please come forward.”

Miss Ditcher died after being hit by a heavy goods vehicle on her way home from a shopping trip to Asda. The collision took place on Leigh Road, Leigh, at 11.45am on the morning of Wednesday, February 4.

She was pronounced dead at the scene. No prosecution has been brought against the lorry driver and an inquest will be held into the tragedy at Bolton Coroner’s Court on July 8.

At the time police issued a description of the theft suspect

He was said to be white, 6ft tall, between 30 and 40 years old, of medium build, had a dark brown beard, wore a light grey hooded top with the hood pulled over his head, light blue jeans and black boot style training shoes.

Shortly after the tragedy her surviving relatives issued a statement through the police which read: “We cannot believe that someone has done this to our auntie.

“We are absolutely disgusted by this person’s actions.

“Had auntie Irene been alive she would have given them the money if they’d asked.

“We just hope their conscience gets the better of them and they hand themselves into the police.”

The police officer who launched the inquiry into the theft described it as “the most disgusting crime I have ever investigated.”

Anyone with information is asked to ring police on 101 or the Crimestoppers number anonymously on 0800 555111.