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Thursday, 27 February 2020
TWO men have been jailed for stealing elderly women’s purses in Henley and Wallingford.
Serial offenders Kevin Nanton and Paul Hopkins pleaded guilty to three counts of theft at Oxford Crown Court.
Nanton, 52, from Witney, was sentenced to 40 months and Hopkins, 44, of no fixed abode, to 26 months after also admitting a charge of fraud.
The men appeared in court via a video link to HMP Bullingdon in Bicester and Hopkins’s partner wept in the public gallery as the judge Mr Justice Daly sentenced them.
The court heard that the pair targeted a Henley woman, a French national, as she was shopping in the town on November 28.
Dr Robert Lindsey, prosecuting, said they held the door open for her as she visited Oxfam in Market Place and then followed her to the library in Ravenscroft Road.
Eventually she realised that her purse, which contained between 100 and 200 euros in cash and her French identification card, was missing. Meanwhile, the men made a series of contactless payments amounting to almost £120 using her bank card at W H Smith and Sainsbury’s in Bell Street.
The victim, 67, said: “I think it’s a poor life if you’re taking the purse of an old lady when you are 52.
“I was distraught because I had some photos inside of my late mother and dog.”
The men had already targeted another woman in Wallingford on November 18.
Dr Lindsey said she was shopping in the town’s Waitrose store when she felt two men standing near her by the meat counter.
She later discovered that her purse was missing from her bag. It had contained £500 in cash along with her husband’s bus pass and her National Trust, Boots, Waitrose and debit cards.
On December 5 the men stole a purse from another woman in Henley market place. They were then arrested by police.
The court heard Nanton already had 54 convictions relating to 199 offences while Hopkins had 14 convictions relating to 31 offences.
Dr Lindsey said: “The aggravating factors here are the targeting of the vulnerable and elderly.
“In terms of harm, we have heard from one of the victims that there was a degree of inconvenience caused to her.”
Rhianna Fricker, for Hopkins, said he had a “significant” gap in his offending. “He was last convicted in November 2017 and released in April 2018,” she said. “He managed to stay out of trouble until these offences.”
She said Hopkins suffered from depression and anxiety and his partner was in debt.
Miss Fricker said: “She is a person with good character and has provided a home for him. Their relationship has developed and she has become an incredible support for him.
“Mr Hopkins understands that he has devastated the relationship and he takes full responsibility for his actions. He has made a huge improvement in recent years apart from these offences.
“He wants to work with the probation service and take time to think about what he has done.”
Lyall Thompson, for Nanton, said: “I acknowledge that these are extremely unattractive offences and ask the court to put them into perspective.
“They are unattractive but they certainly do not cause the emotional distress and upset that the most serious offences do.
“Mr Nanton is also burdened with an appalling criminal record. This is what he’s been doing for many years — the same sort of offending.
“That fact is that it is a cycle that Mr Nanton got into for very many years and there’s no sign of him stopping. What’s needed is some sort of breakthrough, in my submission.”
“He is motivated to change his gambling and, unprompted, he has attended Gamblers Anonymous and has found out what he would have to do.”
The judge told the men the offences were “disgraceful and disgusting”.
He said: “You planned it in advance and you deliberately targeted the victims, who were elderly ladies out doing their shopping.”
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