Purse thief who wrecked woman’s Christmas is given 20 weeks in prison

The scales of justice
The scales of justice
One of three images released by police. Credit: Hampshire Constabulary

CCTV released after burglars target Portsmouth home

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THIEF Aaron Cruickshank will be spending Christmas in jail after forcing a woman to cancel her bank cards when he stole her purse.

The 32-year-old created ‘huge inconvenience’ for the victim after taking her purse – containing £25 and cigarettes – from the counter at Gosport Borough Council’s town hall.

He claimed he picked up the purse to hand it back – but took the cash and cigarettes before his partner handed it in at a bank.

But now he is serving a 20-week sentence after admitting the theft, a separate shoplifting – and for repeatedly swearing at a judge who jailed him.

Prosecutor Giles Fletcher told how the thief, who was with his partner, even stared at the CCTV after taking the item.

Adrian Dodd, mitigating, said: ‘The intention was to give it to the woman but they didn’t find her.’

But Mr Dodd said Cruickshank admitted he ‘took the cigarettes and the money’.

The court heard Cruickshank, of Gosport Road, Fareham, has carried out 23 previous thefts

Sentencing, district judge Anne Arnold said the woman having to cancel her cards was a ‘huge inconvenience to that person at this time of year’.

She added: ‘The Court of Appeal has made it clear on a number of occasions that people who steal items such as purses can expect to go to prison.’

The judge handed him 16 weeks for the December 12 theft and four weeks for a shoplifting spree at Holland and Barrett on October 30.

But before he could be led down to the cells, Cruickshank said: ‘That’s just... me right up you know what I mean?’

Warned to be quiet he carried on, adding: ‘Someone left the purse on the side I went to give it back to them.’

Swearing as he was led down the judge added: ‘I take the view he’s in contempt.’

She said he was being taken ‘down the steps using the F word on no less than four occasions’.

Cruickshank, who was stealing to fund a drug habit before being put on methadone, was brought back up into court later on.

Mr Dodd said Cruickshank reacted as ‘he realised Christmas went out the window’.

The thief added: ‘I’m sorry for talking in that way in court, I was disappointed.’

District judge Arnold replied: ‘I understand people get disappointed when things don’t go their way in court, I warned you about your behaviour, you carried on in the same way.’

The judge imposed a 14-day concurrent sentence to his 20-week term.