A VICTIM of cowardly mugger Richard Stokes has spoken about the horrific attack on her.
Suzanne Berry, 62, had her handbag stolen by Stokes in November last year.
Stokes, 35, was jailed for 40 months this week for a string of crimes including burglary and receiving stolen goods.
It was his latest conviction after a life of crime.
Mrs Berry has bravely released her victim impact statement to the Citizen to reveal how street crime affects people.
Victim impact statements are read out in court for judges to take into account when sentencing offenders.
In her statement Mrs Berry said: “I am 62 years old and a full-time carer for my daughter Catherine Berry.
“Catherine is 24 years old and suffers from quadriplegia, which is spastic cerebral palsy – the worst type you can get which causes stiffness and spasms from head to toe.
“She can’t do anything for herself or care for herself in any way.
“Sometimes it takes us two hours just to get her out of bed.
“Catherine can talk fine and communicate with me.
“However, she has the mind of an eight-year-old. She is in a woman’s body but young in her head.
“Any form of stress can have a real impact on her health.
“I love her dearly and have brought her up by myself.
“It can be very tiring and physically demanding to look after her, but I wouldn’t change her for the world and consider it a privilege to have her in my life.
“Naturally, I try to shield her from any unnecessary stress and upset.
“Since the robbery it has made me very cautious and wary about going out.
“I’m very aware and jumpy when anyone walks close behind me and I won’t go out when it starts to get dark if I’m on my own.
“I don’t get to go out that much on my own due to needing to care for Catherine and now those small trips out are filled with worry and dread instead of enjoyment of my own company.
“On the day of the robbery, I was so upset and distraught about what had happened, I went back to the home of my other daughter Carmelina.
“She was looking after me and I waited there with my granddaughter Amy for the police.
“Catherine was also there being looked after while I was out. That night, we couldn’t obviously shield Catherine from what had happened, due to the police presence and the fact I was very upset.
“She was very worried about me crying, wondering if I was okay and that she would protect me.
“I wanted to be strong for her as best I could but she was still upset.
“From there, throughout the next two weeks, Catherine was constantly stressing and worrying about me going out.
“She would tell me not to go out and leave her and that she felt unsafe and upset because of what happened.
“She used excuses not to go to her day centre so we didn’t leave the house.
“She stressed constantly about it. Then one day Catherine wasn’t herself.
“She was quiet and complaining of not feeling very well.
“I looked after her as I normally did, however, that day Catherine suffered a grand mal fit – the worst type of fit you can have.
“My daughter was with me and we called an ambulance. In the meantime, trying to move her on her side.
“We tried the best we could but it resulted in Catherine swallowing her tongue.
“Her breathing and heart stopped for a full three minutes.
“She came to once the fit stopped but was very aggressive. This was extremely unusual behaviour from Catherine.
“The GP came out and Catherine had to have an emergency brain scan at the hospital to make sure nothing more sinister was going on.
“It turned out she was fine and the fit had been brought on by stress.
“The only stress she was subject to was the day I was robbed.
“Since then it has taken effort and strength to get Catherine’s mind off worrying about me.
“She gets anxious every now and again.
“Some of the money in my handbag when it was stolen belonged to Catherine – about £80.
“There was also a special card with information about Catherine’s condition and emergency consultant phone numbers.
“The whole ordeal has been very upsetting. The man looked at me and just saw an opportunity to get my money.
“What he didn’t realise was that not only was he stealing from me but my daughter too.
“It’s clear they never think about the after-effects it has on people.
“Not just me but my severely disabled daughter, to whom it caused so much stress she almost died.
“I’ve lost faith in humanity. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, not even the offender’s mother.
“I’ve always been a giving and helpful person. I’ve never stolen anything in my life and would always give the last of any money I had in my pocket to a homeless person on the street.
“I don’t see the point anymore.
“Helping my daughter and my family is my priority.
“Going to prison clearly isn’t a deterrent for crime.
“Robbing an older woman didn’t go through his mind as an awful thing to do.
“He wasn’t worried in my opinion about going to prison if he was caught because it is easy time.
“I think they should bring back harsher punishments.
“It would hopefully deter other people from committing such awful crimes.”