A robber who snatched a gold chain from a pensioner’s neck has been spared jail after he told a judge he was struggling to pay off drug debts.
Manpreet Bhambhra, 40, pounced on the 72-year-old victim as she made her way to a Sikh temple on Manor Road in Rugby with her friend for a lunchtime service on 9 September last year.
He grabbed her necklace and pendant, which was worth more than £2,000, and yanked it off her neck leaving her with deep scratches.
Bhambhra was arrested days after the robbery when he was caught on CCTV selling the jewellery at a pawn shop.
Bhambhra, of Rugby, Warwickshire, admitted robbery but was spared jail after writing to the judge about how he was struggling to pay off drug debts.
The father-of-two was handed a 15-month sentence, suspended for two years, ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work and pay his victim £600 compensation.
Sentencing Bhambhra at Warwick Crown Court on Wednesday, Judge Peter Cooke admitted his decision to let him off was “astonishingly rare”.
He said: “He’s plainly an intelligent family man who has held down responsible jobs.
“But it’s clear he has been battling with class A drugs for some time, and he tells me he was facing increasingly unpleasant threats to repay debts.
Read more from Yahoo News UK:
“When he saw these two ladies walking down the street, he acted on impulse.”
Addressing Bhambra, he told him: “I hope you understand how astonishingly rare it is for anyone to stand before a crown court and to walk out through the public door after admitting a street robbery, particularly of a lady of advanced years.
“But it is an important factor that you have got to the age of 40 without behaving in this way before.
“You acknowledge you have a problem with class A drugs, which have blighted your life, and you have a determination to do something about it.
“I accept you are completely contrite about what you have done, and that the last thing you want is ever to put another lady through what you put this lady through.
“This is an opportunity to address the underlying problems.
“It is a chance you could very easily blow, but if you come back having let me down, your feet won’t touch the ground.”
In a statement read in court, the victim said the ordeal has left her struggling to sleep and scared to go out.
Colin Charvill, defending, said Bhambhra, had been “taking steps” to address his drug use.