A STREET robber targeted an elderly woman on a narrow alleyway in an “utterly cowardly” attack.

Peter Robinson carried out what a judge described as, “a classic street mugging”, after following the 75-year-old victim when she got off a bus.

Durham Crown Court heard the victim thought someone was following her, as she headed down a cut beside Pelton RAOB Club, shortly after 3.30pm on December 20, last year, but initially saw no-one.

Seconds later she heard a male voice approaching and, as she turned, she felt herself being pulled backwards as the stranger tugged at her handbag, the straps of which were over her shoulder.

Robinson pulled harder, removing the bag, but dragging the woman over, causing her to suffer grazing in the fall.

Peter Sabiston, prosecuting, said the defendant shouted: “I’m sorry”, as he fled with the bag, containing her mobile phone, £60, a bottle of whisky and a bank card.

Police recovered the stolen bag, minus the contents, discarded on a track nearby, along with a jacket containing a letter.

Mr Sabiston said both contained traces of Robinson’s dna, while cctv in the area of the stop where the victim got off the bus showed she was followed by a figure similar to him.

He was arrested at his home in the village on January 8, and claimed the woman would not have seen who removed the bag if it was snatched from behind.

But, appearing at a plea hearing, via video link from Durham Prison, the 32-year-old defendant, of Greta Street North, Pelton, admitted robbery.

Steven Reed, mitigating, said Robinson could remember little of events that day, as he was in the midst of a drug addiction, but it appeared to have been “an opportunistic crime” on seeing the woman with the bag.

But the defendant spoke up to say he was, “not himself” at the time as he was off the anti-psychotic medication he should have been taking.

Jailing him for two years, Judge Jonathan Carroll told Robinson: “This was a classic street mugging, an utterly cowardly piece of behaviour.

“You say you had little recollection, but you had the presence of mind to say you were ‘sorry’, so you knew it was a pretty despicable act.”