A 92 YEAR OLD woman was the victim of a vicious mugger in Hackney on 27th June.
The woman had gone out to post a letter and then visit the Lawson Medical Centre on Nuttall Street. She went past a branch of Papa Johns Pizzeria and then turned into an alley that leads to the medical centre. The robber followed her into the alley and as she neared the Medical Centre he rushed up behind her and grabbed her handbag.
His victim was made of stern stuff: she screamed out and would not let go of her bag. The robber persisted, grabbing at her bag again and again until she fell over. After she fell, the robber dragged her along until eventually the victim had to let go of the bag. The robber then ran away – back into the alley and then turning right to head up Hoxton Street in a northerly direction.
He left his victim badly bruised – and also very frightened. She suffered a number of cracked ribs, which have been very painful, and a head injury when she fell to the ground. She was vulnerable because of her age and also because she had recently been widowed after nearly 70 years of marriage.
She is being cared for by her family, who have described that she is having nightmares about the incident and is now terrified of leaving the house and has lost her capacity to live independently. The stolen handbag, which had distinctive, multi-coloured stripes, contained a Virgin mobile phone, the victim’s Freedom pass and £100 in cash. Police are asking people to look out for it around the scene of the robbery in case the robber threw it away soon after he escaped the scene.
The suspect was later named as 28 year old Sanchez Edwards. He is described as a dark skinned black man, 5ft 9ins, of medium build and with short black hair and a black beard. He was wearing a blue hooded jacket and dark trousers.
Edwards had been a patient at the John Howard Centre, a medium-secure psychiatric facility in Hackney, since 29th January 2016. He had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had a history of drug use. He had assaulted a member of hospital staff and had been sentenced to an unrestricted hospital order under Section 37 of the Mental Health Act. He had been on unescorted leave from the Centre on 17th May, but failed to return.
Edwards was spotted at Bethnal Green Tube station at 12.30pm on 3rd July and again at 7pm on 6th July and at Mile End Tube station at 3.30pm on 7th July. Police believe he spends a great deal of time travelling around London on public transport, especially the 25 and 38 buses and on the Central Line. He usually wears dark clothing, but when seen at Mile End he was wearing a white zipped jumper, black Addidas tracksuit bottoms and trainers. He is known to spend time in Stratford, Ilford, Bethnal Green and Hackney.
Police in Hackney were so shocked by what the victim had gone through that they took a card and some flowers round to her. On 7th July, Crimestoppers offered a reward of up to £5,000 for information which is given to them direct and leads to the arrest of Sanchez.
“All week I have had officers conducting street searches, stopping buses and trawling transport hubs, however we have a vast area to cover and Edwards is extremely transient. Sanchez Edwards is a dangerous man with a strong history of violence. My team are completing fast-time enquiries to attempt to locate him but I require the public’s assistance. If you see Edwards then do not approach him but immediately call 999 or alert nearby police.
“I can assure you, we will act on any information received. Call 999, tell the operator you think you have sighted the high risk violent Hackney robber and we will respond immediately. Every Police officer is aware and alert to this case, as well as those patrolling the trains and buses. Please do the right thing for this lady and the safety of the rest of the public at large and let us know where he is.
“If you were in the area at the time and saw the attack, or saw the suspect loitering or making his escape, then please contact the investigation team. Your witness account is vital. As I have warned previously, he is dangerous and violent so please do not attempt to confront or tackle him, call us on 999.”
•Anyone who can help the investigation is asked to contact Hackney CID via 101, quoting Operation Brunton. Alternatively, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800-555 111, where you can give your information anonymously. As DI Ridley says, if you sight Sanchez, call 999.
STORY UPDATE: SUSPECT FOUND AND CHARGED: