Thief branded 'mini crimewave' jailed for four years
Azaz Sheikh who has been jailed for four years
A DRUG addict who stole a purse from a churchgoer's handbag while she was at the altar taking communion has been jailed for a total of four years after a judge described him as a "mini crimewave".
The victim was taking part in a service at St Barnabas Church in Heaton, Bradford, a year ago when 30-year-old Azaz Sheikh spotted her unattended handbag on a pew and removed the purse.
Bradford Crown Court heard that a witness challenged Sheikh after seeing him take the purse, but he ran off.
The theft was part of a catalogue of "sneak-in" type offences committed by Sheikh over a period between December 2013 and August last year and Judge Jonathan Durham Hall QC told him he should be ashamed of his crime.
Judge Durham Hall said Sheikh's own family must be at the end to their tether due to his activities and he had also cause upset and distress to his victims.
The court heard that Sheikh, of Nearcliffe Road, Heaton, often pretended to be a member of staff when he was challenged during his attacks on various commercial premises.
When he was found in the staff area of the Tesco store on Manningham Lane he put on the jacket from the staff uniform to try to back up his claim.
Judge Durham Hall heard how Sheikh stole alcohol from the Premier Inn in Vicar Lane, property from the staff locker room of the Grosvenor Casino and even took a television from the room of a vulnerable man who was living at a residential home.
The judge said Sheikh's crimes were motivated by his "relentless drug-fuelled need" to find money to fund his soul-destroying habit.
Sheikh was found guilty of stealing the purse at the church following a trial at the magistrates court, but he also entered guilty pleas to a series of other offences of burglary and theft.
Mitigating for him, lawyer Tom Rushbrooke conceded that his client's offending caused great inconvenience for the victims.
Mr Rushbrooke indicated that when his client was released from custody his family planned to move away from the area, possibly to Pakistan, in order to remove Sheikh from his "associates" and get help for him.
Jailing Sheikh for a total of four years Judge Durham Hall told him: "At the end of the day you have to help yourself. You can't go on doing this.
"You're killing yourself and your hurting other people. "