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Homeless drug addict who stole from woman in Manchester as she had epileptic fit is jailed

A homeless drug addict caught on CCTV stealing a woman's iPhone and car keys as she lay on the floor having an epileptic fit has been jailed for 22 months.

Noel Steadman, 46, who suffers from epilepsy himself, targeted 39-year-old Leonora Royce after she collapsed in Manchester city centre late at night on March 21 this year.

The finance director had been heading to work to find a document at around 12.30am when she suffered an epileptic fit after parking her car and leaving its hazard lights on. 

But that was the last she remembered of the incident, and when she came round she was being helped by police officers. 

Noel Steadman (left), 46, who suffers from epilepsy himself, targeted 39-year-old Leonora Royce (right) after she collapsed in Manchester city centre late at night on March 21 this year. He was yesterday jailed at Manchester Crown Court for 22 months after pleading guilty to offences of theft and vehicle interference 

Sentencing him to 22 months in jail, Judge David Hernandez said Steadman had committed a 'despicable' act which would 'disgust right thinking people'. 

And in a victim impact statement read out to the court, Mrs Royce said the late night incident in Manchester city centre had 'shaken me to my core'.  

Footage of the theft shows Steadman - seen in grey trousers - and another man, who has not been caught, carrying Mrs Royce into an alleyway.

After laying her down he stole her iPhone and her car keys, before opening her Kia Sorento and looking for anything else he could steal.

But he was interrupted by a passer-by who said he 'did not believe' Steadman was helping the woman before he ran away from the scene.  

Steadman, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to offences of theft and vehicle interference. 

Duncan Wilcock, prosecuting, said that Mrs Royce had 'some sort of seizure', and fell to the ground.

A man who had just finished work walked past and saw her on the floor.

He also saw two men, Steadman and the other suspect, but thought the pair were helping Mrs Royce.

The man asked Steadman if he was okay and whether they needed an ambulance. 

Steadman said: 'No, it's okay mate. I will sort her.'

Temporarily reassured, the man began to walk away. But he continued to feel 'uneasy' about what he saw and watched on.

He then witnessed Steadman and the other man pick Mrs Royce up and take her to a back alley.

The witness asked the pair: 'Do you even know her?'

Steadman replied: 'Yeah, we are with her.'

Steadman then began to search through Mrs Royce's pockets. The man thought he was looking for medicine or identification.

But in fact Steadman was looking for things to steal. He found her car keys and got into her car.

The witness asked Steadman and his accomplice: 'What are you doing?'

He was ignored but Steadman then got out of the car and threw away the keys, which have since been recovered.

The witness again asked Steadman if he knew Mrs Royce.

In a victim impact statement Mrs Royce (pictured with her husband Jordan) paid tribute to the 'absolutely fantastic' support she received from her family, friends, the police and the public

He said yes but the man said 'I don't believe you', and told Steadman he had called for an ambulance. He ran off but was arrested days later after being identified on CCTV footage.

Sentencing him to 22 months in jail, Judge David Hernandez told Steadman: 'Right thinking people will be disgusted by what you did, because instead of helping her you went out of your way to see what you could get.

'It was clearly and blatantly dishonest, aggravated by the fact that woman was lying in the street, clearly needing help. She was vulnerable.

'You didn't help her, you stole from her; a despicable act.'

In a victim impact statement read in court, Mrs Royce told how she moved from her native Yorkshire in the late 1990s to study, now calling Manchester her home.

She told how her parents were concerned when she moved due to reports about gun violence in the city, but she reassured them that 'this was not the Manchester she had experienced'.

In a statement, Mrs Royce said: 'I cannot believe that this could happen to me in the city that I love, and in the community I decided to be a part of.'

Mrs Royce said she didn't want the experience to 'taint' Manchester for her, but said that was 'easier said than done'.

She said: 'It's the idea that someone would see me lying there and steal from me, try to take my car and just leave me there clearly having a fit.

'That has shaken me to my core. I cannot believe that you would do that to another person.'

Mrs Royce's husband, Jordan, had earlier appealed for help in tracking down the people responsible for stealing from his wife

Mrs Royce paid tribute to the 'absolutely fantastic' support she received from her family, friends, the police and the public.

Her husband, Jordan, had earlier appealed for help in tracking down the people responsible for stealing from his wife.

He earlier said: 'I hate that this has happened. To do something like this, you are not a Mancunian.

'But I am not surprised. I can understand the circumstances that lead people to become this desperate.' 

The court heard that Steadman was a 'prolific thief', with 75 previous convictions for 171 offences.

Mark Friend, mitigating, said Steadman was a man with 'considerable difficulties', having abused class A drugs since his teenage years.

Steadman suffers from epilepsy himself, and has problems with his memory and cognitive functions.

Mr Friend said the defendant's life has been 'ruined' by drug abuse, and said he had become 'institutionalised' due to the amount of time he has spent in prison.

The barrister said: 'He [Steadman] recognises this was terrible, appalling offending that will be met with condign punishment.'

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