Man found guilty of robbing a visually impaired woman

23/03/2012

James Matthew Wilshaw, aged 25, was today found guilty at Stafford Crown Court of robbing a visually impaired lady of her handbag as she walked along an alleyway in Burton-upon-Trent.

In the early evening of 6 June 2011, the victim was walking alone along Halcyon Way in Burton following a shopping trip and was using her white cane. Wilshaw pulled up beside her on a pedal cycle, grabbed her arm and pulled her to the ground. He snatched and tugged at her handbag and left.

The bag was later found hidden in a cat carrier at the home address of Mr Wilshaw's mother, although £20 had been removed from the purse.

The victim, who was left with a minor injury to her hand, screamed out and alerted neighbours who saw the attacker fleeing the scene on his bicycle.

Celia Thorpe, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: "This was a callous street robbery carried out in broad daylight on a visually impaired woman.

"Whilst there is no evidence that the crime was motivated by the defendant's hostility towards the victim because of her disability, it was clear that he took advantage of the vulnerable situation the victim found herself in.

"Notwithstanding her visual impairment, the victim showed immense composure and courage in giving a very full account to the police, which led to the arrest later that day of Wilshaw who lived nearby. She gave her evidence via a video recorded interview which had been conducted at a specialist suite within hours of the attack. She did not have to give live evidence in court.

"Staffordshire Police have carried out a very thorough investigation, and have been committed to working alongside the CPS to bring the offender to justice. The member of the public who immediately went to the victim's assistance should also be praised for his quick and selfless thinking.

"I hope that today's verdict sends out a strong message to those who prey upon people who are in a more vulnerable situation, that the CPS will always seek to apply for measures to be put into place for all victims to be able to give their best evidence."