This female drug addict knocked a helpless 83-year-old woman to the ground and stole her purse on a Sheffield street – before being chased and caught by brave passers-by.
Tina Hickinbottom, aged 34, was jailed for 18 months at Sheffield Crown Court after admitting robbing her elderly victim on October 2 last year.
Hickinbottom, of Barrie Crescent, Shirecliffe, approached the 83-year-old as she went to Norwood Post Office on Herries Road at 9am, initially offering to ‘help’ the pensioner – who needs the support of sticks to walk.
When the woman refused and left the shop, Hickinbottom followed her down the street and pushed her to the ground.
Susan Evans, prosecuting, said: “The complainant had left the Post Office and begun to walk to the hairdresser.
“She felt a blow to the back which made her fall to the floor and thought she was having a heart attack.”
Hickinbottom attempted to wrestle her handbag off the elderly woman, before eventually making off with her purse.
Miss Evans said: “Passing witnesses heard the commotion and chased the defendant, detaining her and the purse was recovered.”
She said the victim had suffered nightmares as a result of the incident and when examined by a doctor a week after the attack was found to be ‘shaking and anxious’.
Miss Evans said the level of distress the elderly woman had felt had triggered an episode of angina.
Tim Gaubert, defending, said Hickinbottom had no previous convictions and was ‘extremely ashamed’.
He said she had shown genuine remorse and written a letter of apology to her victim.
Mr Gaubert said Hickinbottom is now a ‘very different person’ to the one who committed the offence after getting clean of drugs and showing a willingness to change.
He said: “At the time she was in the throes of a very controlling relationship at the hands of someone who is very well-known to the police and closely supervised by the police on a long licence as a result of a previous conviction.
“He introduced the defendant to drugs and at the times of the commission of the offence, it is difficult to envisage anybody being at a lower point.
“She has to an extent brought that on herself given she was using drugs.”
Mr Gaubert said Hickinbottom hoped it was possible her sentence could be suspended in light of her attempts to turn her life around.
But Judge Simon Lawler QC said the sentence had to be one of imprisonment.
“The message must go out that those who commit offences like this go to custody, whatever the circumstances,” he said.
“The public expect there to be a measure of punishment.
“On the other side of the coin, it is clear you were in an abusive and controlling relationship which got you into drugs and you had domestic difficulties.”
Judge Lawler said the woman could have faced a sentence of ‘several years in prison’ but taking into account the submissions made on her behalf, he believed 18 months was an appropriate sentence.
Hickinbottom wept as she was taken to the cells following her sentence and shouted ‘Love you, mum’ as family members watched from the public gallery.
PC Haydn Crooks, the investigating officer, said: “I would like to thank members of the public for their help in assisting the police with this investigation and ensuring that Tina Hickinbottom could be brought to justice as quickly as possible.
“This was a horrendous assault on an innocent and vulnerable lady who has shown tremendous bravery throughout.
“Hopefully this sentence will reinforce that the police and the justice system will not tolerate acts like this being committed.”