Thief admits ‘rat’s trick’ after stealing woman’s purse on bus

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A SNEAK thief who stole a passenger’s purse while sitting beside her on a bus has been spared jail.

Mark Butler dipped into the woman’s bag as they travelled on the number 56 service from Sulgrave to Sunderland city centre on October 30 last year.

Newcastle Crown Court heard as well as losing her purse, which cost £7, the unemployed victim lost important documentation including her birth certificate and a bank card which was inside.

Butler, of Roker Avenue, Sunderland, was on a suspended sentence for violence at the time. The 27-year-old, who had been travelling back from seeing his girlfriend in hospital but was too drunk to remember the offence, described what he had done that day as a “rat’s 
trick”. He pleaded guilty to theft.

Miss Recorder Sarah Mallett sentenced him to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months with supervision and programme requirements.

The judge told him: “I hope you don’t throw this opportunity back in the court’s face.

“There is no possibility whatsoever of anybody giving you a further