An opportunistic thief who tried to tear a handbag away from an unsuspecting Fife grandmother in the street has been jailed for 20 months.
James Robertson, 39, only stopped his attempted theft after being spooked by the presence of his victim’s young grandchild, Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court has heard.
Robertson, who appeared via video link from HMP Perth, ran away after realising the child was there, but was later tracked down by police and identified by his 47-year-old victim.
Fiscal Ronnie Hay told the court how the woman had been at her daughter’s home in Ballingry on the afternoon of February 6 to help with childcare, where it was agreed she would take the youngster – whose age was not specified in court – to stay at her home in Cowdenbeath that night.
After boarding the number 19 bus, she alighted at a stop in Broad Street at around 6pm and noticed a white Skoda taxi parked in front of the bus.
Mr Hay explained that the woman saw Robertson, who she recognised from her job at Semi-Chem, get out of the taxi and walk across the road towards Broad Street.
Shortly after that though, Robertson came up behind her and tried to snatch her bag.
Mr Hay said: “She felt the handle of her bag getting taken over her head.
“She said the accused then said to her: ‘If you let go, you won’t get hurt’.”
The woman also noticed Robertson was holding a wooden baton and was convinced he was going to hurt her if she did not relinquish the bag.
However, Robertson noticed the woman was with her grandchild and immediately ran off.
Police were called and later tracked Robertson to his flat where he was arrested for attempted robbery.
Defence solicitor Gordon Martin said his client and his partner had been dealing with long-standing drug problems for some time and were grieving for relatives who had died recently.
Mr Martin added that his client had taken medication and has “little recollection” of the attempted theft.
“Mr Robertson has instructed to me to apologise for what he did,” he said.
“He saw the child, he stopped and ran away, so he clearly hadn’t seen the child beforehand.”
Sheriff Keith O’Mahony said a custodial sentence was the only one suitable in this instance and ordered Robertson to serve 20 months in prison.