Addict who tried to rob Portsmouth woman in street spared jail

A CCTV image of the charity box thief

CCTV catches dopey charity box thief on camera

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A DRUG addict left a woman in her 60s bruised and distraught after trying to steal her handbag in the street.

Misty Smith attempted to snatch Julie Moran’s bag near her home in Queens Road, Copnor.

The 24-year-old swore at her victim and pulled the handbag with such force that the leather strap snapped.

But Smith ran off empty-handed when two neighbours came out to help Mrs Moran.

A judge at Portsmouth Crown Court described the bruising to the victim’s arm as ‘awful’.

But he decided not to jail Smith after hearing about her progress in getting off drugs.

Smith – who has convictions for 23 previous offences, mainly theft – initially denied the offence, claiming she had run down the road and got accidentally tangled up with Mrs Moran.

But she eventually pleaded guilty before the start of the trial.

Kate Freemantle, prosecuting, said: ‘She said any idea that it was a robbery was a complete misunderstanding on behalf of the witnesses.’

Adrian Fleming, defending, said Smith was working hard to kick her cocaine and heroin habit.

He described her actions as ‘a moment of madness’.

‘There are signs, and principally being clean of drugs for nine months given her history, that she has moved on,’ he said.

Judge Christopher Leigh QC said robbery was ‘a very serious offence’.

‘When you look at the bruises that were caused to the victim one could see only too clearly why the courts always regard it as a serious offence,’ he said.

‘You pleaded guilty but even that was on the day of the trial, no doubt putting your victim through further anguish in thinking she would have to give evidence.’

But the court heard how Smith had not broken the law between January 2009 and July 2010, when she carried out the robbery. And she has not committed any further offences since then.

Judge Leigh QC said: ‘For you that is a considerable achievement.

‘In the events since then you have voluntarily sought the help of those who can help you turn your drug addiction around.’

Smith was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.

She will also have 18 months of supervision from the probation service and she must attend a ‘thinking skills’ programme.