Gambling addict stole baby's iPhone

A 72-year-old gambling addict stole an iPhone from a baby in a push chair because he was in debt to loan sharks, a court heard.

Police released CCTV images of the shocking theft when it emerged the iPhone was snatched from a 20-month-old girl while she was using it to watch an episode of Barney the Dinosaur while her mum shopped.

Kenneth Fletcher, of Kremlin Drive, Liverpool, was jailed for 42 weeks for a string of thefts in which he also targeted vulnerable elderly people.

Sentencing him, Helen Bennett, chairman of the bench at Sefton Magistrates' Court, said: "We have decided to send you directly to custody. This is because you are a perpetual offender and you have a long and unenviable record of similar crimes."

Fletcher, with dark hair in a side parting, wore a navy blue blazer, blue shirt and grey V-necked jumper in the dock. He wore a hearing aid and appeared to struggle to hear some of what was said in court.

Alison Clarkson, for the prosecution, said the theft occurred at The Hype store in Ormskirk, Lancashire, on September 22 last year when the iPhone, worth around £600, was snatched from the hands of Luella Hinnigan while she was in her pram.

The court heard Luella's mother Danielle had given the child the phone to watch "Barney" while she was doing some shopping.

"The child began to scream because the phone had gone," Ms Clarkson said.

At first Ms Hinnigan thought her daughter had dropped the phone, but after asking shop staff to check CCTV she realised what had happened and staff called the police.

The CCTV from the store showed Fletcher snatching the phone from the baby while her mother's back was turned. The court also heard that Fletcher, who had previously given a name of Kenneth Rimmer to police, targeted an 87-year-old woman and a 91-year-old woman in separate handbag thefts in June and July last year.