Serial offender Jason Stratford targets blind man

A Cirencester drug addict who stole £40 from a blind man – but then gave back his wallet containing another £40 – has been jailed for 27 weeks.

At Gloucester Crown Court yesterday, Tuesday, prosecutor Méabh McGee said Jason Stratford. 37, from Cirencester but of no fixed address, claimed to have known his 70 year old victim, Dennis Smith for some time while he was living in supported accommodation due to his failing health.

But Mr Smith said he had not had any dealings with Stratford before the theft.

“On June 25 this year Mr Smith was shopping at a Tesco Express store within the Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham when he was approached by a man from behind whom he recognised as the defendant but had not had dealings with,” Ms McGee said.

“Stratford followed Mr Smith and challenged him, asking him for money and reaching into his back pocket and retrieving his wallet. He opened it out and took four £10 notes totalling £40 from it. But he left the remaining cash, another £40, in the wallet and thrust back into the hands of his victim.

“Mr Smith felt unable to react to Stratford’s theft. A couple of bystanders who witnessed the theft attempted to chase after Stratford but lost sight of him.

“Mr Smith reported the incident and Stratford was subsequently arrested. He later claimed that he was asked by Mr Smith to get him a sex worker.”

In interview Stratford said: “Mr Smith approached me near the Tesco store and told me I owed him some money, which I didn’t. The money I had in my possession was mine. I was given some cash when I left prison on June 22 and the rest was from my girlfriend.”

The court was told that Stratford was subject to an anti social behaviour injunction whereby he was forbidden to cause alarm of distress or use threatening violent behaviour towards others in Cirencester, where he used to live.

Sarah Jenkins, defending, said: “Stratford is a man who has a long-standing class A drug addiction which resurfaced following the breakdown of a personal relationship in 2018.

“He was recalled to prison on his arrest for these charges of theft. Stratford only stole £40 being the sum he needed to buy his daily fix of drugs and gave the rest back.

“He accepts that Mr Smith was targeted because of his vulnerabilities.”

At an earlier hearing Stratford pleaded guilty to theft of £40 from Mr Smith on June 25, 2021.

The judge, Recorder Richard Stead said to Stratford: “You have an appalling criminal record. You stole £40 from the wallet of a 70-year-old blind man because you felt he was a soft touch.

“However one thing that could be said for you is that you didn’t take all of his cash. You did eventually pleaded guilty once you got to this court.”

The judge sentenced Stratford to 27 weeks in prison and ordered him to pay a victim surcharge.

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