A vicious mugger was recently jailed for 27 months after admitting robbery at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
CCTV footage shows how back in November last year 25 year old Michael Vincent watched intently as pensioner Sue Griffiths won on the slot machines at the Gala Bingo in Hanley, just north of Stoke-on-Trent.
He then lay in wait for the 64 year old, planning to snatch her handbag.
Sue, from a suburb of Stoke-on-Trent, Bentilee, had already won £300 earlier at the bingo, and her handbag contained many other important items – including keys and a snuff box, which had sentimental value.
Vincent ambushed Sue as she walked back to a car park with her daughter.
She gave an account of the attack: “He pounced on me from nowhere and went straight for my bag.
“I was holding onto the bag and he was kicking and dragging me around the place.
“It was only when the strap of the bag broke that he stopped and ran away with it.
“He would have done anything to get the cash. I don’t know what would have happened if the strap had not snapped – he could have been facing manslaughter charges but for the grace of god.”
Prosecutor Neil Ahuja told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court: “CCTV showed the defendant stood behind them playing on slot machines.
“He sat between them and occasionally looked towards the complainant.
“He would have been aware of her winning further money.
“The defendant left ahead of them.
“The complainant would have had in the order of £400 in her handbag.”
It was also noted that Sue’s daughter Angela Ball, 40, was also knocked to the floor during the attack.
Mr Ahuja said: “Mrs Griffiths tried to resist. The defendant kicked her at least a couple of times.
“She could smell alcohol on his breath.”
The court heard how Vincent, of Mornington Road, Sneyd Green, was located as a result of the CCTV images and due to his membership at the bingo hall.
Nicola Bell, mitigating, said: “He had too much to drink and his gambling debts had spiralled out of control.”
The mugging left Sue with grazes to her wrist and elbow, as well as sore ribs. There has also been an impact on her psychologically.
“The whole thing has left us paranoid.
“I had problems with my speech after it happened. I had a stroke a few months before, and I was getting better, but then this knocked my confidence.
“We still go to the bingo, but this will always be with us.”
Vincent was jailed for 27 months. Recorder Martin Hurst said: “You waited in the car park. You are a big man, she is a small woman.
“You dragged her forcibly across the car park, kicking her at least twice to the midriff.
“This caused great distress and inconvenience to her and her daughter.
“What on earth you were thinking of I have no idea. It is disgusting.
“I hope you are ashamed of yourself.”
The mother and daughter were delighted that Vincent was jailed, but want the old bus station to be better lit and have improved CCTV as a result of the incident.