Trio of heroes tackle mugger

Sharon Rukin, Stuart Yates and Stephanie Lathrope caught an offender on Leyland Lane who stole an elderly lady's bag
Sharon Rukin, Stuart Yates and Stephanie Lathrope caught an offender on Leyland Lane who stole an elderly lady's bag

Have-a-go heroes in Leyland caught a drug addict who mugged a 91-year-old woman and held him until police arrived.

Stuart Yates, 45, his wife Stephanie, 41, and Spar shop manager Sharon Rukin, 50, sprang into action after mugger Paul Wilding snatched the frail pensioner’s bag as she got into her car last Tuesday.

The trio saw the thief loitering around the shops on Leyland Lane, where many senior citizens go to collect their pensions, an hour after the theft.

They wrestled him to the ground before he could target anyone else.

Stephanie, who runs the Cosmopolitan sunbed shop, held the squirming thief in a headlock, while Stuart and Sharon sat on him until police arrived. Wilding, 45, of Meadowcroft Road in Leyland, was jailed on Thursday for 12 weeks by Chorley Magistrates Court.

Mr Yates, a father-of-four, said: “The shops around here have been really badly hit by crime and we think a lot of it is because drug addicts are going to the Post Office to claim their benefits before buying drugs in the area.

“The thief snatched the bag out of the old lady’s hand as she got into her car.

“When we saw him an hour later we all sprang into action. The lady’s daughter came and told us about his sentence and we were disappointed.

“I’m not scared of saying if I ever see him around here again I won’t just stand by.

“We saw him loitering for a good hour before he mugged the lady, but did not realise what he was up to.”

Ms Rukin, who has three grandchildren, revealed the whimpering robber said: “Get off me, I’ve got a bad back.”

She added: “There was no way we were letting him go. I said: ‘You didn’t think about that when you mugged an old lady did you? He just kept trying to get away.

“I didn’t see what happened, I just noticed the ambulance for the old lady. But later we were trying to help police find him on our CCTV.

“The police went to do some more inquiries and within 10 minutes he was walking past so we all jumped on him.

“People were stood around wondering what was happening.”

DC Sam Matthews, of Leyland CID, said: “ We are really grateful for what they did and it’s refreshing to see someone who is prepared to step in.

“We admire them for what they did, which has led to a man being charged and convicted.

“They did us a big favour.”

Magistrates ruled a prison sentence was necessary because the victim had a number of health issues and was “clearly vulnerable”.

The court heard she was still very distressed and blamed herself.

Wilding also admitted possession of class A heroin.

The court ordered the drugs to be forfeited and destroyed.

No order for compensation was made as the court heard he did not have the means to pay and it would prolong the lady’s distress.