A heroin addict who dragged a pensioner to the ground as she pulled her handbag from her in the street was caught after rifling through it at a nearby drug treatment centre.
And Warwick Crown Court heard that heroin has ‘destroyed absolutely everything’ in mother-of-two Natalie Flowers’ life as she committed offences out of desperation for the drug.
Flowers, 27, of Holbrooks Road, Long Lawford, Rugby, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to offences of robbery and attempted robbery.
Antonie Muller, prosecuting, said that on April 27 a 54-year-old woman, who describes herself as being ‘long-term sick,’ had been shopping in Rugby town centre.
As she walked past the multi-storey car park off Railway Terrace, carrying two bags of shopping and her handbag, she felt someone grab her right arm from behind.
She turned, and as she did so Flowers demanded: “Give me your f***ing money. Give me your shopping.”
The woman responded by saying she would do no such thing, at which Flowers told her: “I’m f***ing homeless you know.”
But when the woman made it clear that made no difference, Flowers let go of the bags she was trying to pull from her, and the woman continued towards Gas Street.
There she spoke to someone who had seen some of the incident, and they told a town ranger what had happened.
Afterwards the woman said she had feared she was going to be stabbed as Flowers had rummaged through her own bag during the incident, as if trying to find something.
Meanwhile nearby an Asian woman in her 70s, who had also been shopping, was pulling her shopping trolley and carrying her handbag as she made her way home.
She had just started to cross the road when Flowers appeared behind her and grabbed her handbag.
And when the elderly lady tried to hang on to it, she was pulled to the ground and dragged along, causing heavy bruising to her thigh, elbow and chin, which had hit the ground.
The woman, who had undergone knee replacement surgery some time before, had to let go of her bag and saw Flowers running off with it.
Flowers headed straight to the Addaction drug recovery organisation in Regent Place where she told staff she needed to get a ‘script,’ and was asked to wait in the waiting room.
When the staff member returned, Flowers had gone – but someone else there found the handbag in the toilets and handed it to the staff member.
As she was doing so, they saw the police nearby looking for something, so went out and asked whether that was what they were trying to find.
It was, and when officers checked a CCTV camera they recognised Flowers entering the Addaction premises.
She was arrested shortly afterwards and said she was ‘ill’ from her heroin habit and needed money to buy drugs, adding that she had taken £20 from the bag in the toilets at Addaction.
Mr Muller pointed out that at the time Flowers was on bail for shoplifting, and seven days earlier had appeared before magistrates for failing to comply with a community order for two offences of theft including snatching a handbag in a supermarket.
Nick Devine, defending, said when she was younger Flowers had been a trouble-maker, but had settled down and not been in trouble since 2007.
“Then in 2013-14 drugs reared their ugly head, and she starts committing the sort of offences which are all too prevalent among addicts.
“Heroin has destroyed absolutely everything in her life. But without drugs, she can lead a useful and productive life. She has been in custody for some time, and has placed herself on a drug rehab course.”
Jailing Flowers, Judge Sylvia de Bertodano told her: “This is very frightening and shocking for people when it happens to them, particularly elderly people. They have got every right to go and do their shopping without being set about by you.
“It is a sad story I have read about you. Heroin has ruined your life, it has ripped apart your family; but you know I have to send you to prison.”