A thug attacked a ‘defenseless’ 78-year-old woman before sprinting with her purse in a horrific daylight robbery.
Pierre Garcia-Benitez, 25, was pursued by “courageous” members of the public who saw the elderly victim fall to the ground as he stole her purse.
He pleaded guilty to a single count of robbery at Inner London Crown Court on Tuesday, July 20.
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The court heard that the victim was walking along Norwood Road in Southwark at around 11:30 a.m. on April 26 after visiting his local post office.
She had no idea she was being watched by Garcia-Benitez, who was standing behind her as she had withdrawn £ 200 a few minutes earlier.
He walked over to the woman and grabbed her purse. She tried to keep it, but Garcia-Benitez was able to pull it off, causing her to fall heavily to the floor.
Members of the public rescued the woman, including a man who had watched the incident unfold from his vehicle.
He courageously pursued Garcia-Benitez, forcing him to throw the bag as he fled the area.
Although some items were not recovered, a handbag containing the £ 200 withdrawn earlier and personal family photos were not.
Officers launched an investigation, including examining CCTV, going door-to-door and appealing to the media. As a result, Garcia-Benitez was identified as the suspect.
He was arrested on June 19 and charged with theft before appearing in Westminster Magistrates’ Court two days later.
He was released on bail to appear before London’s Interior Crown Court on Monday, where he pleaded guilty to the offense.
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Police officer Alex Earley, investigator, said the victim was “upset and shaken”.
He added: “Fortunately, the victim in this case was not seriously injured, but was upset and shaken. It is incomprehensible to me that someone could commit this crime against such a vulnerable and defenseless victim, leaving her. lying in the street.
“My team and I have gathered a significant amount of evidence – so much so that Garcia-Benitez had no choice but to plead guilty. I hope this will bring the victim a sense of justice and closure in order to that she can begin to move past what has happened. “
Garcia-Benitez will be sentenced by the same court on September 8.