AN 86-YEAR-OLD woman who stopped to help a man with directions in Tranent ended up being robbed by him.

Jamie Duncan pretended to be lost before grabbing the woman in a fake cuddle, reaching into her pocket and stealing her purse.

The elderly woman valiantly tried to fight the thief off but he eventually managed to break free and run from the scene.

Duncan was subsequently caught nearby by police officers while in possession of the woman’s bank card and was arrested and charged.

The 29-year-old pleaded guilty to the assault and robbery when he appeared from custody at Edinburgh Sheriff Court last Thursday.

Prosecutor Lorna Ferrier said that the pensioner was approached by Duncan as she waited to cross the road at the town’s Haddington Road at about 3.30pm on November 28 last year.

Ms Ferrier said: “She provided him with directions but he walked off in the opposite direction. He returned shortly after and asked how to get to Musselburgh.

“The accused put his hand around her shoulders as if to give her a hug. The accused then put his hand inside her pocket where her purse was.

“She asked him to stop but he refused and a physical struggle ensued.”

The OAP eventually gave in and Duncan ran off with her purse, added the fiscal. She made her way home and a neighbour described the woman as in “floods of tears, sobbing and hyperventilating”.

Duncan, from Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, was spotted by police about 30 minutes later and he was found in possession of the woman’s bank card, while her purse was found in a nearby bin.

Solicitor Angela Craig said that her client was a drug user and that “he appreciates the gravity of what happened here”.

Ms Craig added that Duncan was addressing his drug habit while currently serving a prison sentence in HMP Addiewell.

The lawyer added that Duncan had been jailed in February on an unrelated matter and was due for release at the end of July.

Sheriff Donald Corke deferred sentence to July 11 for the preparation of social work reports.

Duncan admitted assaulting and robbing the 86-year-old woman at Haddington Road, Tranent, on November 28 last year.