Stole pensioner’s purse

A DRUG ADDICT who stole a pensioner’s purse in broad daylight has been sentenced to 120 hours of community service at Peterhead Sheriff Court.

Paul Gray (36), of Peterhead’s Leask Avenue, initially admitted to stealing the purse in August but sentenced was deferred until last Thursday for reports.

Procurator Fiscal David Thorburn said that the 67-year-old woman had been to the local post office to draw out her pension and to put credit on an electricity card.

He said: “The complainer attended at RS McColl to get her pension and she parked her car outside the shop.

“She receieved £130 in cash which she put into her purse and also got £30 put on an electricity card which she also put into her purse.”

The court heard that as the victim attempted to drive away, Gray approached the passenger window and asked for a lift. When the woman refused, he snatched her purse out of her handbag, which had been placed on the passenger seat and ran off.

Witnesses then attempted to run after Gray, and when the police later traced him, he denied all knowledge of the theft and no purse was found on his person.

At around 1.15pm that same day, a nearby resident saw Gray return to a bush outside the property and appeared to be rummaging around for something, the court also heard.

Police later attended and a search was carried out but although the purse was found, no money was recovered.

Defence agent for Gray, Iain Jane, said that his client had “no recollection” of the matter and had suffered from “serious” drug issues at the time of the offence.

“He accepts his involvement and has fully co-operated.

“He has no recent record of dishonesty and his last conviction for theft was in April 1992 and in October 1993.

“September 2007 was his last conviction where he received a jail sentence. However, acts of this nature are totally out of character and it highlighted to him that his drug addiction was spiralling out of control,” Mr Jane said.

The court heard that Gray had now been put on a methadone programme to control his addiction and, although he is not yet fully stabilised, it is an “ongoing process”.

“He describes his own actions as despicable and he is thoroughly ashamed of himself. Given his record, probation may benefit him in the longer term,” Mr Jane added.

Sheriff Peter Paterson said: “I am inclined to send you to jail for this, but this community service order is a direct alternative.

“The court acknowledges that you have problems which you are addressing and expects you to complete this order.”