A CRUEL thief who snatched a disabled pensioner’s bag and made off with a mobile phone and just £7 has been jailed for four months.

Michael Fitzjohn grabbed the bag from 78-year-old Ron Eldridge as he was riding his mobility scooter.

The thief had initially walked past Mr Eldridge in Fronks Road, Dovercourt, before doubling back on himself and snatching his bag from behind.

He took the cash and phone before dumping the bag nearby and it was later returned to the victim.

A passerby saw what had happened and reported the incident to the police.

Mr Eldridge, who carries an oxygen tank with him at all times for his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was shaken up and breathless after the theft.

Fitzjohn, of Church Street, Harwich admitted the theft at Colchester Magistrates’ Court on Monday, as well as stealing meat from a Co-op store.

Sentencing was adjourned for reports from the probation service and mental health professionals to be prepared.

District judge John Woollard said yesterday after hearing Fitzjohn was not suffering from psychosis at the time of the incident last month, then it was only right he was sent to jail.

Labelling Fitzjohn’s behaviour as “horrendous”, he said: “At the end of the day you deliberately targeted an elderly man in his late 70s who was riding in his mobility scooter and you stole from him.

“You snatched property which belonged to him.

“It is about the worst offence anyone could commit.”

The court heard Fitzjohn, 31, had been a victim of theft himself by people who would steal his benefit money and had been cuckooed by people who moved into his house and took from him.

He has also previously been reliant on drugs and alcohol.

Anne Fraser, mitigating said: “He finds himself in a very difficult situation.

“He spent three years on a hospital order where he was happy but has struggled to adapt since then.

“He has had people literally taking his card and stealing his money but that is no excuse.

“He made full admissions to the police.

“He knows how it feels to be a vulnerable person who has been stolen from.”

Fitzjohn must also pay a £115 victim surcharge.

There was no separate penalty for stealing the £60 worth of meat and groceries from the Co-op.