A thief who stole a 92-year-old’s handbag while she shopped has escaped a prison term.
In a theft, which the court described as ‘opportunistic’, Stephen McGeorge, 49, took just 14 seconds to go into Iceland in West Street, Fareham, and steal the bag, which contained the victim’s purse, cash, keys and medication.
McGeorge, who is originally from Liverpool but currently living in Bracklesham Close, Southampton, appeared at Fareham Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to theft, which happened on April 9 .
The court heard that McGeorge has a drug addiction and a prescription for methadone.
The court also heard about McGeorge’s previous convictions, which included a 12 moth jail term last year for two similar thefts from women with young children.
Defence Sally Martin said that sending McGeorge to jail would mean he would lose his flat, which could potentially trigger another bout of offending.
She also said that McGeorge had handed himself in to Fareham police station and that he has been trying to break his drug addiction.
Chairwoman of the bench Patricia Owen told McGeorge this was his ‘last chance,’ and added: ‘This offence was committed while you were on licence, albeit near the end.
‘However, we have listened to what your defence has said and we will give you an opportunity to complete a drug rehabilitation course.’
She sentenced McGeorge to a four-month suspended sentence on the condition he completes a six-month non-residential drug rehabilitation order.
McGeorge was also ordered to pay his victim £215 compensation and ordered to pay an £80 victim surcharge.
Investigating officer PC David Lynn said: ‘I would like to thank members of the public and the media, particularly The News, for supporting our appeals to identify this man and bring him before the courts to face their judgement.
‘My thoughts remain with the elderly woman and her family who were distraught and distressed over the actions of this man and his crime.’