A GRANDMOTHER died after a drug addict looking for cash for a heroin fix snatched her handbag in the street.
Frail pensioner Jean Myers lost her balance and fell to the pavement in Quarry Road, Cleckheaton, hitting her head and fracturing her skull when Paul Halstead grabbed her bag as she was walking home.
Although a motorist who saw the 89-year-old lying injured immediately went to her assistance and called for an ambulance, she was in and out of consciousness when she reached Bradford Royal Infirmary, Mehran Nassiri, prosecuting, told Leeds Crown Court yesterday.
A scan showed the fracture and bleeding into her brain. Because of her deteriorating condition it was not felt possible to move her to Leeds General Infirmary and she died within hours.
Meanwhile Halstead had taken her handbag to a recreation ground where he helped himself to the £15 in notes and change he found inside before abandoning it.
He then went home and ordered some heroin from a dealer before committing a second robbery on a 22-year-old woman later the same afternoon.
But this time he was caught, after being seen by passer-by Mark Weatherall who gave chase, joined by off-duty policeman,PC Mark Nicholson.
Halstead, 27, of Shirley Parade, Gomersal, admitted both robberies and the manslaughter of Mrs Myers of Thoresbury Drive, Gomersal and will be sentenced today.
Mr Nassiri told the court Mrs Myers was brought up in the Batley area and served with the Women’s Auxiliary Airforce where she met her husband Eric in 1944 who was in the RAF.
They had one daughter and after the war she had worked in the Co-op and manufacturers in Cleckheaton until her retirement. After her husband died in 2005 she continued to enjoy an active life.
On June 17 she had been to the White Rose Shopping Centre in Leeds and had only about half a mile to walk to her home after getting off the bus around 1.50pm, but had the misfortune to meet Halstead who was walking in the opposite direction.
He later told police he was spending up to £100 a day on heroin and was “rattling” for the drug because he had spent all his benefit and only had 37p on him.
He and his girlfriend had previously been “foraging” through skips at Tesco.
Halstead said he did not realise the woman’s age when he saw her and after grabbing her bag had run off, not seeing what happened to her.
After going home he ordered some heroin from a dealer which was quickly delivered.
At 5.15 pm, Mr Nassiri said, an office data analyst was walking in Bradford Road, Cleckheaton, when Halstead struck again.
She suddenly felt a tap on her shoulder, turned around and Halstead grabbed the strap of her bag.
She struggled to hold on to it but the strap broke and the robber made off, leaving her shocked and shaking.
But this time Halstead was chased and when arrested was found to have a wooden handled hammer, a pair of pliers, scissors and other tools on him.
Charlotte Eastwood, for Halstead, said there was no suggestion he had used any of those items. The robberies were opportunistic and he described his actions as evil and expressed remorse.
At the time he had been addicted to heroin for three years, although was now drug free. He had also failed to take his anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medication.