A daylight robber put a terrified eight-year-old girl in a headlock during a shocking street attack as she walked home from the swimming baths with her mum and twin sister.
Ricky Lee had grabbed the mum’s handbag and pulled with such force that it snapped and sent her mobile phone crashing to the ground as the family made their way past Hetton park in Sunderland after a visit to the local pool.
Newcastle Crown Court heard when one of her twin girls picked up their mum’s mobile, Lee struggled with her until she ended up on the ground and suffered grazes and bruising.
The 25-year-old got away with the phone but was collared when sickened passers-by, including a 16-year-old teen, gave chase and detained him until the police arrived.
The frightened mum said in a victim statement: “This has really upset me, I’ve never faced anything like this.
“I am very shocked and have been crying as I was so scared.
“All of this happened in front of my children and one was hurt because of it.
“It makes me so angry and sad, she is just a little girl.
“This will really effect them and has upset them.
“I am frightened to go back to the same place.
“I screamed and screamed. I feel so shocked.”
Lee, of The Avenue, Hetton le Hole, admitted robbery and attempted robbery.
Mr Recorder Paul Miller sentenced him to three years and four months behind bars.
The judge told him: “You attacked a lady as she was walking hom, pulling at her bag and when she resisted you attacked her eight-year-old daughter, forcing a mobile phone out of her hand.
“Both mother and daughter suffered minor physical injury but more serious psychological upset.
“Members of the public have to be protected from this kind of random and frightening attack in broad daylight.”
Prosecutor Neil Pallister told the court the family had been at Hetton swimming pool and were making their way home shorty before two thirty in the afternoon last September 8.
As they walked past the park the mum felt a tug on her handbag and ended up in a tussle with Lee when she refused to let go.
When the handbag handle snapped one of the little girls picked up their mum’s mobile.
Mr Pallister said: “He turned his attention to the eight-year-old.
“At the time there was 16-year-old male passing by and he was alerted to what was going on by the screams.
“He saw a male, the defendant, and described him having his arm around a small girl’s neck, holding her from behind.
“The defendant was grabbing for the mobile phone, which the girl was holding out in front of her in an attempt to keep it out of the male’s reach.”
Lee fled with the phone after the little girl ended up on the ground.
The mum was left with soreness to her fingers from trying to keep hold of her bag.
The little girl had a bruised ankle and a bruised, grazed elbow.
Nick Lane, defending, said Lee, who is not heavily convicted, is a trained joiner who has an offer of work in his father’s business.
Mr Lane said Lee had been drinking before the attacks, which he can offer no real explanation for.
He added: “He is incredibly remorseful for his behaviour on this day. He struggles to explain his behaviour.
“This is an awful event that has happened due to a momentary lapse of judgement.”
Mr Lane said although the little girl suffered injuries, they were not the most serious type, and described them as “the sort of thing a child may suffer falling over in the playground”.