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A 56-year-old man from Widnes has been jailed after attempting to rob a woman with the aid of an imitation handgun.
Stephen Murphy, of Halebank Road, walked up to the 37-year-old victim as she was putting shopping on the back seat of her car.
As she turned around, Murphy demanded the handbag and keys she was carrying.
He made sure that she was aware of what he had in his hand and grabbed one of the handbag’s handles.
Convinced that the gun he was holding was a fake, the victim, who is from Widnes, refused to let go of her handbag.
They tussled for the bag before a young man walking past asked the victim if she was okay.
She told him that she wasn’t and Murphy then claimed that the victim was his ex-wife.
The young man subsequently began arguing with Murphy, who managed to pull the handbag out of the victim’s hand.
As he argued with the man, she managed to grab the bag back off him and back away.
After being pushed in the chest by Murphy, the young man and two other people ran after the robber.
The incident occurred outside a convenience store on Hale Road in Widnes at around 8pm on Friday 30 October.
A store worker called the police on the victim’s behalf and officers established that Murphy was the offender.
He was subsequently arrested in the Halebank area of Widnes at around 9am on Tuesday 3 November.
Murphy refused to answer any questions in custody.
He was charged with robbery and possession of an imitation firearm.
With the incident having been captured on CCTV footage and with the clothes he was wearing during the robbery incident having been seized by officers from his home and the address he was in when he was arrested, Murphy pleaded guilty to the offences as soon as the case progressed to a crown court.
He returned to Liverpool Crown Court to be sentenced on Friday 18 December.
Murphy was jailed for five years and three months.
Detective Constable Kerif Smythe, who led the investigation on behalf of Widnes Local Policing Unit, said: “This was a frightening incident that understandably left the victim extremely shaken up.
“Had she not realised that the handgun Stephen Murphy was holding was a fake, it would have been an even more terrifying incident.
“Thankfully, a young man in the area saw what was happening and came to her aid.
“Murphy did not manage to steal anything from the victim and the incident was captured on CCTV footage.
“Once we had established that Murphy was the offender, located and arrested him and seized the clothes he had been wearing that night, it was only a matter of time before he was jailed for the offence.
“I am pleased that he is now behind bars facing the consequences of his actions and I hope that this gives the victim some closure.
“I also hope that this case deters others from committing similar offences.”
On top of his custodial sentence, Murphy was ordered to pay a £190 victim surcharge.
David Keane, police and crime commissioner for Cheshire, said: “I would like to thank all the officers involved in the case for their sterling work in securing this conviction.
“I would also like to thank the members of the public who either helped the victim that night or aided the subsequent investigation.
“As a result of their endeavours, a robber has been taken off our streets and Widnes is a safer place.”