Would-be robber is jailed after attack

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A man who tried to rob a Bury St Edmunds pensioner as she walked home from church has been jailed.

James Steel was described as a ‘self-indulgent thug’ by Judge Roderick Newton, who sentenced him to three years in prison on Monday.

Ipswich Crown Court heard how the 70-year-old victim had been on her way home from church on November 26 last year.

Prosecutor Patricia Doggett said the woman was walking in St John’s Street when Steel attempted to steal her handbag.

A struggle had ensued with the pensioner managing to keep hold of the bag, forcing Steel to run off empty handed as a worker emerged from a nearby shop after hearing the woman’s cries.

Miss Doggett said the woman, who lives in the town, was badly shaken and upset by the incident.

Steel, 52, of St John’s Street, Bury, had pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, theft, breach of a conditional discharge and failing to surrender to custody while on bail.

Appearing for Steel, Sally Hobson said he had suffered with drink and drug problems for many years but recently had decided to seek professional help to tackle those issues.

Steel had been drinking before the attempted robbery and accepted that a prison sentence was inevitable, said Miss Hobson. He was ‘hugely remorseful’ for his actions that day.

Judge Newton told Steel: “This lady had been to church. She was entitled to make her way home without being attacked by you.”