Hove: Appeal For Return Of Phone
16 September 2014, 14:49
The mother of a British soldier killed in Afghanistan has made an impassioned plea after being robbed of a phone packed with precious images of her son.
Jacqui Janes, 54, had the black iPhone 5 snatched from her after being barged to the ground by a robber smelling of alcohol on a popular dog walking route in the South Downs.
She had been walking her dead son Jamie Janes' six-year-old pedigree staff, Ella, when the robbery happened at around 1.30pm yesterday near the A27 footbridge in Hangleton, East Sussex.
Ms Janes said the phone had 385 pictures and two videos featuring her 20-year-old son, of 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, who was fatally wounded on a foot patrol in Helmand in October 2009.
In a direct appeal for the return of the images, she said: "I don't care about the phone, but please give me the SIM card back.
"I have never had a problem in that area before. As I was walking up, I saw a man sitting on a bench and I got a strong smell of alcohol.
"I just carried on with Ella because she likes eating blackberries off the bushes. After I turned around, the man sitting on the bench had gone, then I heard someone running.
"At first I didn't think anything of it, but then someone barged into me side-on and I fell to the floor. I had the dog, who was a 19th birthday present for Jamie, on a lead and she grabbed his leg.
"He then swung around and kicked her so hard and then he went.'' She added: "I'm just shocked and I won't be walking the dog for a while.''
Ms Janes said one video on the phone holds a particularly strong emotional tie for her. The clip was shot by one of Jamie's friends the Christmas before he died.
"It's only about 50-odd seconds long, but it has Jamie in his civilian clothes and on it he says, 'I do love you','' said Ms Janes. "That's all I want.''
Following her son's death, Ms Janes made headlines after then-prime minister Gordon Brown made errors in a hand-written letter of condolence to her, for which he apologised.
Detective Sergeant Simon Dunn, of Sussex Police, said: "The victim's son was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 and the mobile phone memory contained precious memories of her son which she is desperate to have returned.
"This robbery happened in broad daylight and there were people out walking their dogs and the suspect ran off towards Hangleton shops.
"He is described as a white man with stubble, aged in his late 20s and stocky build, around 5ft 8in.
"He was wearing a distinctive grey hooded coat with stripes down the arms, dark trousers and dark footwear and smelt strongly of alcohol.''
Anyone with information is asked to call Sussex Police on 101.