3 years for Czech mugger

Bradford judge Peter Benson
Bradford judge Peter Benson

An ex-chicken factory worker who robbed an old lady when he snatched her handbag outside the Courier offices was sentenced to three years in prison.

Josef Szelong, of Mayfield Terrace South, Halifax, appeared in Bradford Crown Court charged with robbery.

Szelong – originally from the Czech Republic – entered a guilty plea, admitting to approaching the 75-year-old victim and snatching her bag, which had a walking stick in it.

The Regent Street incident took place on May 10 and the court was told how the elderly woman had been shopping before Szelong approached her, which then resulted in her falling to the ground and sustaining numerous injuries.

Representing the 31-year-old, Joanne Lata said the robbery had been an act of desperation from Szelong – who the court was told had two previous convictions for similar offences from when he was living in the Czech Republic.

Miss Lata said: “He and his wife came to this country to start a new life effectively and they had the opportunity for a job for Mr Szelong which he was in for eight months, that being in a chicken factory. Unfortunately he lost that job two weeks before this incident.

“They were effectively at a point of desperation.”

Sentencing, judge Peter Benson said: “You’ve pleaded guilty to an offence of robbery. The evidence of that offence was a 75-year-old lady who was clearly infirm. I say that because she was using a handrail to help her negotiate some stairs and the handbag which you deliberately took off her also contained her walking stick. It must have been apparent to you that she was vulnerable and unlikely to resist. You forcedly snatched her bag away from her causing her to fall on the floor and sustain some unpleasant injury.”