Community service for Bridlington bag thief

John Howard. (NBFP PA1408-7b)
John Howard. (NBFP PA1408-7b)

A thief has been given community service after stealing a handbag from a 73-year-old woman, who died four days after the offence.

The court heard the son of victim Pamela Roddis asked magistrates to deal with the thief leniently, after John Joseph Howard admitted stealing her bag when she dropped it in the street in Bridlington.

Ms Roddis died of a brain haemorrhage four days after the theft, which happened while the holiday-maker was riding her mobility scooter outside Gala Bingo in Promenade.

After a public appeal by police Howard handed himself in.

Howard, 32, of Wellington Road, Bridlington, pleaded guilty to theft by finding Ms Roddis’ handbag, which contained £300 and a mobile phone, on Sunday 26 January.

Prosecution solicitor Andrew Vaughan said: “She was from Sheffield. She was visiting Bridlington for holidays. She was enjoying one of her visits to Bridlington. She was confined to a mobility scooter.”

He told magistrates that on the day in question Ms Roddis had noticed her bag was missing and reported it to the police.

CCTV footage was viewed which showed Ms Roddis outside Gala Bingo when her bag fell off her knee.

Mr Vaughan said: “A man on a push bike rides past and picks up the bag.”

Following the theft Humberside Police put out an appeal for information to identify the thief, and the defendant subsequently handed himself in to police.

In mitigation for Howard was Fiona Tannock who said: “He voluntarily handed himself in. There are tragic surrounding circumstances since in respect of the victim.

“At the time this theft was completely foolish and opportunistic. He took this bag to see what was in it.

“The remorse was very high. It caused him, having heard about the lady’s death, to immediately take himself to the police station out of guilt. He does suffer with depression.”

Lesley Stephenson, of the Humberside Probation Service, said Howard does not need help for drug use.

She said: “He has reduced smoking cannabis now and he has not done so for a week. He does know where to get help if at any stage he does feel he requires that. He feels ready to start work and he feels this will help with his depression.”

Howard also admitted a further charge of possessing herbal cannabis on Wednesday 5 February in Bridlington. He was also in breach of a conditional discharge imposed in April 2013 for theft.

Alan Hardman, chair of the magistrates’ bench, said: “The court is aware that Ms Roddis has since passed away. It is to you credit that you gave yourself to the police. We have also taken into account the email from Ms Roddis’ son asking for leniency.”

He placed Howard under a 12-month community order with a requirement of 120-hours unpaid work. Howard will also pay court costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £60.

Mr Hardman ordered forfeiture and destruction of the cannabis.