‘Despicable’ Sheffield addict stole 74-year-old woman’s engagement ring from chapel lunch club
A ‘despicable" Sheffield drug addict who stole an engagement ring from a Methodist chapel lunch club, leaving his 74-year-old victim heartbroken, has been jailed for 18 months.
Christopher Henighan snatched June Taylor's purse containing £250 in cash and three gold rings, valued at around £3,500, from the chapel, on Ingfield Avenue, Tinsley, on June 11, last year.
Henighan was spotted in the church hall and traced to a nearby hostel, said prosecutor Neil Coxon, but he claimed that he found the purse outside.
It took three court hearings before he was convicted of theft, at Sheffield Magistrates Court, on December 19.
In a statement, she Mrs Taylor: "I can't stress how much this has upset me. It has been really horrible to go through. The rings were so important to me."
She said one ring was given to her, 48 years ago, by her late husband, Tony.
"It's full of memories. I can't put a value on that ring. It can't be replaced. I thought to myself "can I ever smile again?" I hope whoever did this realises the consequences of their actions."
Francis Edusei, mitigating, said the theft was "impulsive".
"He has had long periods of sobriety where he hasn't been convicted and he tells me he is now getting his life together."
The court heard Henighan committed the theft shortly after he was released from prison, and sold the rings for £100 to feed a Class A drug habit.
Judge Roger Thomas QC told him: "What you did was utterly despicable - it can't be described in any other way.
"It didn't occur to her to take security measures to ensure nothing was taken from her. Why should she?
"She is distressed still. What she wants more than anything else is the return of these highly valuable rings to her. I am afraid that will never happen. This is the deliberate targeting of a vulnerable victim."
Henighan, 42, of Highgate, was jailed for 18 months, at Sheffield Crown Court, on Friday.
Speaking after the sentence, Mrs Taylor told The Star how she wishes Henighan would tell police where he sold the rings.
"I hope he does turn his life around and stop breaking hearts, like he's broken mine," she said.
She followed the case through four different court hearings.
"I wasn't going to let it go,” she said. “I wanted to see him sentenced. I just want my rings back, and if he did I would forgive him."
She married Tony "Tink" Taylor in Tinsley, in 1971, and they were married for 39 years until his death from cancer.
She praised how supportive the police had been during her ordeal, and paid tribute to the staff at the chapel who welcomed Henighan and gave him hot meals.
"That's the repayment he gave us back," June said.