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Former special constable tried to rob pensioner in Batley

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A former special constable and bank worker tried to rob a pensioner in Batley while in the grip of a crack cocaine habit.

Claire Deborah O’Keefe passed her 71-year-old victim in Carlinghow Lane and followed her as she walked to the shops.

Leeds Crown Court heard she then grabbed hold of the woman’s bag, saying “I want £10” in an urgent voice.

Prosecutor Robert Galley said the woman bravely kept hold of her bag with both hands, but she was pulled with such force that she fell and was briefly dragged along the pavement.

Her screams attracted the attention of passers-by. One shouted for her attacker to let go, while another tried to chase O’Keefe.

The woman suffered bruising and grazing to her knee.

Judge Christopher Batty said: “You would never have believed that you could be so ravaged by an addiction to crack cocaine that you would pick on a 71-year-old lady and drag her around the street trying to take her handbag.”

The court heard O’Keefe was apologetic when arrested, telling officers she needed to get back into rehab and would have paid the money back.

Zara Begum, mitigating, said her totally out of character behaviour demonstrated how far her life had spiralled downhill since she became involved with drugs.

She had previously held down a responsible job in a bank and was a special constable for a time while also looking after her son who had suffered brain damage.

But after a long-term relationship ended, O’Keefe had become involved with another man who had introduced her to drugs.

She had taken Diazepam and crack cocaine on the day of the attempted robbery.

The court heard on Tuesday that O’Keefe had now made her parents aware of her drug problems and had been free of crack cocaine for five weeks.

If she was jailed it was her parents who would have to look after her 21-year-old son who needed regular help.

O’Keefe, 39, of Beech Tree Mews, Batley, admitted attempted robbery.

She was given a two-year jail sentence suspended for two years with supervision and nine month drug rehabilitation requirement.

Judge Christopher Batty told her he was prepared to take an exceptional course for the sake of her son.

He added:“If anybody ever wanted to see how desperately evil crack cocaine can be they ought to come and look at you and what you are here for today and how far you have fallen. I hope this is an opportunity to climb back up again.”

 

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