A CLACKS man who snatched an 89-year-old lady's handbag and used her bank card to go on a shopping spree was spared prison last week.

Callum Murray, 35, was scolded by a sheriff for the "appalling offence" when he appeared at Alloa Sheriff Court for sentencing on Thursday, October 31.

Fiscal depute Ann Orr said the victim resides in a care home in Tillicoultry, and left to go shopping when she was targeted by Murray on August 1.

The woman was walking down the street when she spotted Murray "walking slowly" in the same direction.

She then arrived at a bus stop, and Mrs Orr said: "As she waited for the bus the accused grabbed hold of her handbag and ran off.

"She was very shaken and upset."

Not long after, £200 was withdrawn from her bank account at an ATM at Sterling Mills.

It's believed a copy of the pin number was in the bag,

Police later visited the shopping outlet and identified Murray as the culprit through CCTV.

He was seen entering the Nike Outlet, and during their enquiries Murray's mother told officers she noticed her son wearing new clothes following the incident.

Murray later pleaded guilty to stealing the woman's handbag and money from her bank account, and sentencing was deferred until last week so reports could be prepared.

In mitigation, solicitor Kelly Howe said: "It's not lost on him the severity of the offence, which he himself describes as pretty nasty.

"At the time of the offence he was involved with an addiction to heroin, and that led him to becoming involved in offending behaviour associated with that."

She went on to say her client showed genuine remorse for his actions, and had made efforts to get himself off of drugs with help from his mother.

In passing sentence, Sheriff David Mackie said: "This was an appalling offence.

"Theft like this from a vulnerable old lady at a bus stop is something which would cause the court to consider the emphasis on punishment."

And after claiming a custodial sentence had been under consideration, the sheriff then revealed he'd decided not to send Murray to prison.

In explaining why, he said the maximum period of imprisonment he could impose for the offences would be 12 months.

And because Murray pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity, he would be entitled to a discount of several months, and would automatically be released after serving half the sentence.

Sheriff Mackie said those factors, coupled with the presumption against short periods of imprisonment in Scotland, led to his decision to impose a community-based sentence instead.

He then gave Murray, of Cairnton Place in Tillicoultry, a community payback order with the requirement he undergo supervision for two years.

He also placed him on a six-month curfew, and required him to pay £200 in compensation to the elderly victim.