Woman stole pensioner’s purse from handbag in supermarket

A pensioner was left “traumatised” after her purse containing “precious” family pictures and cash was pinched from her handbag, which she set down to use a bread slicer in the Lidl store in Coleraine, a court heard on Monday.

Penny Jane Hook, 50, of Hazelbank Court in Coleraine, appeared at the town’s magistrates’ court in connection with the theft of the purse last September, when £120 in cash was taken and a card was also used to make contactless payments of £75.

Although the victim, who was aged 79, rang to cancel her card, it had already been used by Hook at B&M Bargains and Harry Corry.

The defendant was in court for sentencing on charges of theft, converting criminal property and fraud by false representation.

CCTV showed her using the stolen card.

Defence solicitor Garrett Greene said it was accepted it was a “mean offence” and he said the defendant was “upset” at being in court.

He said Hook was unable to give a proper explanation as to why she took the purse and contents.

Mr Greene said the defendant, who cares for her own mother (78) and stepfather had, at the time of the incident, been out at the shops with her stepfather, who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease.

The defence lawyer said the offence was out of character.

District Judge Liam McNally quoted from a Victim Impact Statement from the theft victim who he said was “almost 80”.

The judge said that the victim said the purse contained “precious” photos of her son and daughter from school days which were “irreplaceable”.

She said she had been left “traumatised” by the theft of her purse and that, not only had the incident led to money being stolen, it had also robbed her of her confidence.

Judge McNally imposed a four months jail term, suspended for three years, and ordered Hook to pay £200 compensation.