Drug addict preyed on elderly woman to steal money for heroin

An elderly woman in Lerwick thought that the stranger who appeared in her house on Monday was her new home help.

But Samantha Chapman, 24, of Rudda Court, Lerwick, was a drug addict about to prey on her vulnerable neighbour by stealing her purse. Before making off with £175 from the pensioner to buy heroin and settle a debt she tried to cover up her crime by kissing her 78-year-old victim.

Appearing in handcuffs at Lerwick Sheriff Court on Wednesday, Chapman was refused bail and remanded in custody for a fortnight to await sentencing. Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said her victim, who has poor eyesight, might not be able to continue living on her own now as a result of the blow to her confidence from the heroin addict’s crime.

Chapman admitted going into the woman’s house a few doors along from her own home. She had asked for paracetamol and to use her toilet. Mr MacKenzie said she had generally tried to distract her victim, asking questions about family photographs on the wall before taking a purse which was nestling down the side of her armchair. Chapman kissed her on the cheek before heading off, throwing the empty purse in the Clickimin Loch. None of the money or electricity tokens has been recovered.

“This was a targeted offence,” Mr MacKenzie told the court. “It wasn’t opportunist in any respect.” Suspicion quickly fell on Chapman after police publicised Monday’s sneak-in theft and she fully admitted her involvement to police. She has previous convictions for heroin possession, theft and assault. Mr MacKenzie said her latest offence was perhaps an example of how low someone could sink.

Chapman’s defence agent Tommy Allan said his client knew the woman and had wanted a headache tablet but noticed the purse and had taken it, although that was disputed by the procurator fiscal who said the victim had not been able to identify who had robbed her.

In her police interview Chapman had said she was “ashamed, disgusted and embarrassed” by her crime. She told them: “I know if I was not on heroin I would never have done anything like that.”

Mr Allan said: “It is clear her heroin habit is out of control. She paid off a debt and bought heroin with the remainder of the money.” Chapman is also on Valium and anti-depressants.

Sheriff Graeme Napier said she had been given umpteen chances by the court. He refused bail because she lives near her victim and has failed to turn up for a court date in the past. She will reappear on 24th March when social inquiry, community service and restriction of liberty reports will be ready.

The police thanked members of the public for their help in passing on information which led to Chapman being arrested. They also advised people to use household security measures, such as door chains and door viewers, and to ask strangers for ID if appearing at the door without prior appointment.


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