A MUGGER said to have robbed her 75-year-old victim of her independence has been jailed for more than two years.

Diane Ponting was on her way to steal goods from the Co-op on the morning of November 15 last year to pay off a drugs debt when she spotted pensioner Sheila Gunn.

The Walcot woman was on her way back from the shops with milk and a newspaper in one hand and her purse and tobacco in the other.

Swindon Crown Court heard 32-year-old Ponting had seen the woman, who suffers from chronic arthritis, as an easier target.

Pushing her to the ground outside the Sussex Square shops, Ponting grabbed her victim’s purse and tobacco – shouting “sorry” over her shoulder as she fled.

She rifled through the woman’s purse, taking £20 her victim had withdrawn ahead of a visit to see family later that day. Within hours Ponting – who had a £120-a-day- crack cocaine and heroin habit – had spent the stolen cash on drugs.

In a victim personal statement read to the court, Ms Gunn said Ponting had taken her independence: “She stole my purse. Worse than that she’s robbed me of the person I have always been.

“I am 75-years-old and I have always been confident to do my own thing. Not anymore.”

The attack saw Ms Gunn break her wrist in two places. In a statement made in June 2019, seven months after the robbery, she said the injury still caused her pain.

Interviewed by police, Ponting admitted stealing the purse but denied using force. David Maunder, prosecuting, said: “She needed what she referred to as her fix.”

Ponting, of Raleigh Avenue, Walcot, pleaded guilty to robbery.

Emma Handslip, defending, said her client was extremely vulnerable. She had been introduced to class A drugs by a friend after she lost custody of her children. Ponting’s home had been taken over by drugs gangs, a phenomenon known as cuckooing, with her flat made subject to a police closure order banning all but Ponting and the emergency services from entering it.

Ponting had significant learning difficulties. An assessment showed she had an IQ of just 59.

“This is somebody who needs significant support and rehabilitation,” Miss Handslip said.

Sentencing Ponting to 27 months imprisonment, Judge Jason Taylor QC said she had targeted her victim: “You realised she was vulnerable and an easier target and you were also under the influence of drugs.”