Bag thief shown leniency

John Howard sentenced for stealing a bag from a Sheffield woman who died four days later.
John Howard sentenced for stealing a bag from a Sheffield woman who died four days later.

A thief must carry out community service after stealing a handbag belonging to a 73-year-old Sheffield woman – who died four days later.

A court heard the son of victim Pamela Roddis asked magistrates to deal with John Joseph Howard leniently, after he admitted stealing her bag while she was on holiday in Bridlington.

Mrs Roddis, who lived at Brunswick Gardens Retirement Village in Woodhouse, Sheffield, died of a brain haemorrhage four days after the theft, which happened while she was on holiday in the town.

Bridlington magistrates heard that, following a public appeal for information by Humberside Police, Howard handed himself in.

Howard, aged 32, of Wellington Road, Bridlington, admitted theft by finding Mrs Roddis’ handbag, which contained £300 and a mobile phone, on January 26.

Prosecutor Andrew Vaughan said Mrs Roddis was enjoying one of her regular visits to Bridlington, and was on her mobility scooter outside Gala Bingo on Promenade, when her bag fell off her knee.

He said Mrs Roddis, aged 73, noticed it was missing and reported it to the police.

Mr Vaughan said: “CCTV footage shows a man on a pushbike rides past and picks up the bag.”

Fiona Tannock, defending Howard, said: “He took this bag to see what was in it. He voluntarily handed himself in.

“The theft was completely foolish and opportunistic.”

Miss Tannock said Howard was full of remorse and immediately handed himself in to the police.

Alan Hardman, chair of the bench, said: “The court is aware Mrs Roddis has since passed away.

“It is to your credit that you gave yourself in to the police. 
“We have also taken into account the email from Mrs Roddis’ son, asking for leniency.”

Howard was given a 12-month community order, told to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work, and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a victim surcharge of £60.