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5 October 2012, 13:14
A man with a history of offending going back 18 years has been jailed for burgling a 99 year-old woman's house in Peterborough.
Alan Harding, 31, pushed past the victim as she went to close the rear garden gate of her bungalow in Larch Grove, Dogsthorpe, on the evening of Tuesday, May 8, this year.
He went into her living room and grabbed her handbag from beside a chair before pushing back past her and leaving by the rear door.
The victim was knocked sideways but a door frame prevented her from falling and she managed to strike Harding with her walking stick as he fled.
Police were called and Harding's fingerprints were discovered at the scene. He was arrested and initially denied any involvement in the crime.
However, he pleaded guilty at Peterborough Crown Court last month. On Thursday (Oct 4) he was sentenced at the same court to 5 and-a-half years in jail by Judge Nic Madge.
Judge Madge said Harding had a history of preying upon the elderly and said the burglary was aggravated by the force used.
Harding, previously from Dogsthorpe, Peterborough, has 28 previous convictions for 119 offences, mostly theft related, between September 1994 and March this year.
He was jailed for a burglary in 2009 and had been released on license but was recalled to prison after being arrested for the latest offence.
DC Lee Crane told Heart: "Harding has committed numerous previous offences targeting elderly or vulnerable victims, including thefts from handbags and distraction burglaries. The victim in this case was very frail and it was lucky her fall was prevented by the door frame.
Harding is a career thief and elderly people in Cambridgeshire will be more secure with him behind bars."