Purse-snatching prolific offender jailed for COVID-related offences

|News, Violent crime

A prolific offender who snatched a purse from a female pedestrian and then brandished a syringe threatening to infect passers-by with Coronavirus, AIDS and hepatitis, has been jailed for three years and eight months at Sheffield Crown Court today.

Donovan Gaskin, who has previously been before the courts on 38 separate occasions charged with 99 offences, approached a middle-aged lady on Norfolk Row, Sheffield on 27 March, and asked for change. He then snatched her purse and made off, but was rugby-tackled to the ground by a passing bus-driver.

Gaskin then threatened the bus driver with a syringe and escaped, but was followed by a group of passers-by. He threatened them in the same manner, making jabbing gestures and saying, "Leave me alone or I’ll stab you. I’ve got hepatitis, Corona and AIDS. I don’t care, I’ll stab you."

Jonathan Sharp, Principal Crown Advocate, CPS Yorkshire and Humberside said: "Gaskin acted in an unbelievably stupid and reckless manner. This incident took place on the fourth day of the country being locked down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, when everyone had been alerted in the starkest terms to the danger posed by the virus.

"His actions put the public-spirited individuals who intervened in grave fear for their wellbeing. Let me be absolutely clear: the CPS will not hesitate to prosecute cases such as this, and I hope that whilst in prison, Gaskin will reflect on the folly of his behaviour."

Notes to editors

  • Donovan Gaskin (4/3/85) was charged with robbery and affray.
  • For custody photographs and address details, please refer to South Yorkshire Police.
  • The Judge commended the bus driver for his actions
  • A Criminal Behaviour Order has been applied for to prevent Donovan begging in the city centre. The hearing for that application has been adjourned.


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