A MAN who robbed a pensioner of his life-savings after swiping a tin of Quality Street from a Blackpool arcade has been jailed.
Liam Davis thought the tin contained chocolates and tried to flog it for £5 before opening it and discovering £26,000 of 75-year-old Walter Morris’s life-savings stashed inside.
The “opportunist” thief and his 17-year-old accomplice Aaron Scott had grabbed Mr Morris’s bag from inside the Coral Island arcade and after failing to sell the tin were about to eat the contents before discovering the wads of £20 and £50 notes inside.
Lancaster Crown Court heard yesterday how the pair ran off “laughing” after swiping fistfuls of the cash before dropping the tin, still containing £8,000, on the pavement.
Judge Tony Lancaster told Davis, 23, he had robbed an elderly man of vital savings – before locking him up for four months.
Kirsten McAteer, prosecuting, said: “The prosecution has to accept the defendant didn’t know he was stealing £26,000 when he stole it, but clearly when he had opened the tin and seen the money he took advantage of that and kept it, rather than returning the tin to Coral island.
“When Mr Davis was taken into custody £11,750 was recovered on his behalf but about £6,240 is still outstanding.”
She described how Mr Morris, on a day trip from Blackburn, had been sitting near a gaming machine in the arcade on April 24 last year when his bag was taken - but did not realise it was gone until a lady told him.
Although Davis, of Penrose Avenue, Marton, and Scott – who both pleaded guilty to theft – were not captured on CCTV taking the bag, they were spotted outside Coral Island and were seen by both a student and off-duty police officer after “dropping the tin” with “crisp notes all over the floor”.
Ms McAteer added: “Two males were running away and one was laughing hysterically. He had his arms clenched across his chest holding something and small pieces of paper flew to the ground - (the witness) realised they were £50 notes.”
Davis claimed to have spent just £15 of the cash he took, but the court heard no money had ever been recovered from Scott.
Defending Davis, Sarah Booth said: “This was not a high value targeted offence, it was opportunistic and had somebody purchased this tin for £5 as far as these young men are concerned that would have been the end of the matter.”
But Judge Lancaster told Davis he “must have realised” how much cash he had “stuffed” into his pockets when he got home and said custody was unavoidable.
He added: “Mr Morris is an elderly man who had saved this money for a number of years and although you returned a substantial amount of what you had taken, the fact remains he is still out of pocket by £6,000.
“The chance of him at his age recovering that sum is extremely remote, so he is never likely to get that money back and to him that is a very significant loss.
“He had the money with him in order to go with his son to purchase a caravan for him to live in, and he now is not going to be able to do that.”
Davis was jailed for four months and Scott, of no fixed abode, will be sentenced next month.
Detective Sergeant Jane Atkinson, of Blackpool CID, said: “Fortunately the vast majority of the cash – including that which was blown on to the prom – was given back to the victim. However, the incident has been a significant set back for him and he has not yet realised his dream of buying a caravan.”