A drug addict has been jailed after a court heard how he mugged a girl of just eight years of age in West Yorkshire so he could steal 3.50 pounds to feed his addiction.
Police expressed disbelief that Naseer Laher, 31, could rob someone so young and as he was jailed for four years and three months on Tuesday, a judge told him: "It doesn't get much lower than that."
Leeds Crown Court heard Laher preyed on Chelsea Dixon in an alleyway as she walked to the post office to buy sweets and post letters to her brother Lewis, who was serving in Afghanistan.
Chelsea had just 3.50 pounds in a purse which had belonged to her beloved grandmother, who had died four weeks before the incident on March 15 this year.
Shamaila Quereshi, prosecuting, said the youngster was on her way to the local post office in Batley Carr, when Laher approached her about 4.30pm and asked he how much money she had.Chelsea told him she did not have any but he grabbed the purse and hurt her wrist during the struggle.
A witness saw Laher run away after the attack and went to help the youngster, who was deeply distressed.Laher, of Batley, was arrested and denied the offence, claiming he had been appearing in court at the time. Chelsea later picked him out at an identity parade.
At the time of the offence Laher, who pleaded guilty to robbery at an earlier hearing, was subject to a community order imposed after he burgled the home of one of his relatives.Ms Quereshi said Chelsea's purse has never been recovered and she had been left deeply distressed as she had been very close to her grandmother.Now she is frightened of being on her own and is scared to return to the post office.
A statement by Chelsea's mother, Amanda Dixon, described her daughter as being "very brave" by helping the police and identifying Laher.
Judge Christopher Batty told Laher: "No doubt she was hugely proud of the fact that she had the purse of her grandmother, who had died only a month before. Little did she know she was going to encounter you, a cocaine addict for many years."He added: "She was easy prey to feed your addiction."
After the hearing, Det Con Paul Greatorex, of Kirklees CID, said: "It is hard to understand what would compel a grown man to rob a child for such a small amount of money."After the incident in March, Chelsea's mum Amanda said: "She just came running home, she was a mess. That night she wanted to sleep with me and she didn't go to school the next day. "She only had 3.50 pounds, but I said 'I'm not bothered about that, as long as you're all right'.