A couple with over 400 offences between them have been jailed for pick pocketing a pensioner’s wallet that contained an irreplaceable picture of his late mother.
Lorna Walker, 39, and Peter Ellis, 51, are thought to be the most convicted couple in Britain, clocking up 452 offences during a thieving spree dating back 26 years.
The pair typically target pensioners by picking their pockets or stealing their purses from shopping trolleys. They were arrested again last month after preying on 79-year-old David Condron while he paid for a tram ticket in Manchester.
As Walker spoke to Mr Condron, Ellis took his wallet, which contained £50 in cash he needed to buy groceries. Walker is thought to have thrown Mr Condron’s wallet away before using his bank card to buy £110 worth of cigarettes at three different stores.
Mr Condron said he didn’t realise his wallet was missing until he arrived at the checkout of a Farmfoods, leaving him ‘distressed’.
‘Another customer offered to pay and I did take them up on their kind offer – but it did embarrass me,’ he said in a victim statement.
‘I went to the bank to cancel my card and the bank staff told me that transactions were being made on my card as we spoke.
‘While I am angry about the cards and the money, the most distressing thing is that in the wallet I had a picture of my late mother which I carried about with me for the last 20 years since she passed away, and that can’t be replaced.
‘I hope whoever is responsible gets whatever they deserve.’
At Minshull Crown Court on Tuesday, Ellis, who admitted theft, was jailed for 28 months whilst Walker, who admitted handling stolen goods and fraud, was locked up for 18 months.
Both were on licence from prison at the time and each had repeatedly been in and out of jail for similar offences.
The pair are thought to have got together in 2015 after each embarked on life of crime dating back to 1994.
In 2015 they were jailed for two years over a three month campaign against elderly people who they targeted in shopping centres in Greater Manchester.
While Walker got talking talking to victims, Ellis rifled through their shopping trolleys or bags, stealing their contents. Altogether they stole cash and possessions valued at more than £2,000 from victims aged 58 to 88.
In 2018 their pair were locked up for a further 18 weeks after being captured on CCTV taking a pensioner’s purse from her handbag. Then last year they were given a further 39 weeks after stealing purses, bank cards and handbags from pensioners, including a theft in a charity shop.
Ellis has 239 previous offences on his record dating back to 1994 while Walker has 213. She had previously been in an all girl gang who posed as policewomen and carers to bluff their way into victims’ homes.
In Walker’s defence, Chudi Grant said she had a history of Class-A drug use and that ‘she understands the harm she has caused and expresses remorse’.
But Judge Michael Leeming rubbished these claims, saying: ‘Remorse is just a word, I cannot accept that you are genuinely remorseful.’
He said the fact that the picture of the victim’s late mother was stolen was ‘not something’ either of the defendants ‘remotely care about’.
Earlier in mitigation, Ellis’ lawyer Waheed Baber said his record comes from a drug problem. He said the defendant is now ‘drug free’ and that the latest crime ‘was opportunistic offending and he is trying to become clean.’
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