Mansfield thief saved from 50ft plunge by police officer

A THIEF who fled after snatching a handbag was saved from plunging 50ft over a wall when a police officer grabbed his trouser belt.

Abdellah Atrache, of Beverley Drive, Mansfield, stole the bag from Beach bar in Chesterfield town centre after 11pm on 28th April.

The bag was owned by Louise Spence and Atrache (33) had earlier been bothering her twin sister, Sara, Chesterfield magistrates were told on Monday.

He moved away when she stepped between him and her sister but he returned 10 minutes later and snatched her bag, which contained her mobile phone, house keys and £30 cash.

Prosecutor Helen Griffiths said Ms Spence was ‘distraught’ because her son - who was staying the night at his grandparents’ home - would be unable to contact her if he became upset.

Atrache ran outside and police were informed. He later emerged from an alleyway in St Mary’s Gate and, on seeing an officer, he ran off and was chased along Hollis Lane and then to Dixons Road, a cul-de-sac.

“He made towards a wall with a 50ft drop below it on to a bypass. The officer grabbed the defendant’s belt and arm. He was hanging over the wall but fortunately the officer was able to bring him back over the wall to safety,” said Mrs Griffiths.

She added that the stolen handbag was later found in the alleyway and all contents except the cash was recovered.

Atrache, a machine operator, admitted theft. He had previously been cautioned by police for theft of scratch cards from a shop.

The justices said he was lucky that police stopped him plunging from the wall. They ordered him to do 60 hours’ unpaid work, with £85 costs and £30 compensation.

“He had quite a lot to drink that night and he became separated from friends. He can’t understand why he committed this offence,” said his solicitor, Julian Hammond.

He told the court that Atrache had debts of £40,000 and a drink problem. “He has a lot on his mind,” said Mr Hammond, adding that Atrache had a wife - an estate agent - and a four-year-old daughter.