Robber chased and wrestled to ground after attacking woman
PUBLISHED: 09:11 25 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:32 03 August 2018
A robber with 155 offences was chased through Norwich by passers-by who saw him steal a woman’s bag.
The have-a-go heroes managed to retrieve her purse, but Matthew Brown escaped - only to be snared by police who found his DNA on a hat that he left behind in the struggle.
Brown, 34, who has 55 convictions for 154 previous offences, spotted the trainee solicitor walking in the city weighed down with bags and followed her.
He struck as she was on Farmers Avenue, close to Vue Cinema, and grabbed her bag.
Chris Youell, prosecuting at Norwich Crown Court, said there was a struggle, which was captured on CCTV. He said Brown “was initially smiling at her” before the struggle became more physical. He grabbed the bag and ran off.
Brown was chased by the victim before a man sitting in a nearby car and a motorcyclist both joined the pursuit.
He was caught and restrained long enough for the purse to be recovered but he then escaped with £20. But his cap, with his DNA on it, fell off close to the scene.
The victim, who picked Brown out in an ID parade, said in an impact statement that the robbery left her feeling “shaken” and “scared”.
She said she became extremely cautious of who or what was around her following the robbery and avoided going close to people.
Brown, from Norwich, initially pleaded not guilty to the robbery on August 24 last year.
He subsequently admitted robbery and failing to surrender to bail.
David Stewart, mitigating, said Brown was “out of his head” on drugs at the time of the offence, which he said had been committed due to an “element of coercion”.
He said the money was stolen to pay another offender who was convicted after Brown’s wife gave evidence in a trial.
He said Brown wrote a letter to the victim, offered to pay her back, said he was “truly sorry” and hoped that, “with God’s help”, she might forgive him one day.
Sentencing Brown to two years in prison, Judge Andrew Shaw said: “You identified her as an easy target. You pursued her and robbed her.”
He praised the “admirable public spirit” of the man in the car and the motorcyclist.