Pensioner targeted for purse

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A WIGAN woman who tried to steal a pensioner’s purse while “blanked out” on sedative tablets has been spared an immediate jail term.

But mother-of-two Dawn Rutter, who, at 36 is half the age of her victim, was warned that if she reoffends in the next 12 months she will be put behind bars.

Wigan Magistrates’ Court heard how Rutter’s victim, Sheila Prescott, was targeted by the defendant after strolling out of the town centre Post Office shortly before 11.30am on January 3.

Jayne Kearsley, prosecuting, told how Rutter approached the victim on the pavement, before threatening “just give me your purse and there won’t be any arguments”.

Fortunately, Mrs Prescott, who suffers from heart problems, was able to take refuge in a nearby shop before calling the police.

In interview, Rutter, who was arrested just hours after the incident, admitted asking Mrs Prescott for her purse and accepted that her victim was smaller and frailer than she was.

In a statement, Mrs Prescott said: “This incident really shook me up - I was scared. I have a heart condition and I’m a lot more wary of going into Wigan town centre now and may not go shopping alone ever again.”

Craig Parkinson, defending Rutter, claimed that as soon as it was clear that Mrs Prescott had been scared by his client, the defendant said “I was only joking with you”.

He added that Rutter, of Dell Avenue, Beech Hill, made no attempt to grab Mrs Prescott’s handbag and that the purse, which contained £230 in cash, was not on display at the time.

Mr Parkinson added that the offence, committed by Rutter after she had taken diazepam tablets to “blank out” her personal troubles, was not motivated by financial necessity as his client had collected a benefits payment that morning.

Taking the defendant’s early guilty plea into account, magistrates issued Rutter with a 12-week jail term - suspended for 12 months - and ordered her to pay £100 compensation to her victim. She was also given a 16-week curfew.