‘Despicable’ robber who kicked and punched wheelchair-bound Sheffield man has her jail term cut by four years

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  • Claire Smith stole £40 from cerebral palsy sufferer after punching and kicking him in his home
  • She was originally sentenced to 12 years and eight months in jail for the ‘callous’ attack
  • But appeal judges have now ruled the jail term to be ‘manifestly excessive’
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A woman jailed for a ‘despicable’ robbery on a severely disabled Sheffield man as he sat in his wheelchair has had four years cut from her sentence.

Judges have ruled the original sentence of 12 years and eight months given to Claire Louise Smith for the attack on the vulnerable man was ‘manifestly excessive’.

Smith, 33, robbed the 49-year-old victim at his home only a day after stealing his key fob and burgling his Netherthorpe flat.

Among the things she took in the first incident was the laptop the vulnerable man needs to communicate with others.

After smashing her way in with a house brick the following day, she kicked and punched the cerebral palsy sufferer before taking £40.

Smith, of Washington Road, Sharrow, was jailed for 12 years and eight months last September.

When her original sentence was passed in Sheffield, her targeting of a highly vulnerable victim was described as the ‘height of callous cruelty’.

But senior judges have now ruled the term, passed at the city’s crown court, was too tough.

They have reduced her jail term to just eight years and eight months, reducing the sentence by almost one-third.

Sir David Maddison said: “These were serious and despicable offences.

“Nevertheless, we do accept that the sentences passed were manifestly excessive.”

The Court of Appeal in London heard Smith’s victim is confined to a wheelchair and can only communicate through a laptop.

He had been out shopping last August when he was approached by Smith, who engaged him in conversation.

Against his will, she then snatched the key fob to his flat from around his wrist.

The victim, who is not being named, was able to attract the attention of police, but by the time they got to his home, it had already been burgled.

Among the things taken during the ransacking was the laptop which he needs to communicate.

A day later, Smith called at his flat when he was home alone.

He tried to ignore her knocks on the door, but she became angry and smashed her way in with a brick.

Bravely, the man tried to fend her off by ramming her with his wheelchair, but she responded by kicking and punching him.

Trapped in the flat, it was two-and-a-half hours before his carers arrived and he could raise the alarm.

Smith was arrested a few days later and admitted everything, saying she had gone to the flat to apologise and then became angry when he did not let her in.

She had a history of crack cocaine addiction and was said to pose a high risk of re-offending.