A mugger who attacked a 90-year-old woman in Exmouth’s Magnolia Centre toilet block has been jailed.

Carl Herald ambushed the frail grandmother in the Ladies’ as she came out of a cubicle in February this year. He dragged her to the floor and grabbed her handbag, which contained £400 she had just withdrawn from a cashpoint.

She was left terrified, bloodied and bruised, with an injured hand, shoulder and face after trying to hold onto the bag.

In a written victim impact statement she said: “I don’t know if I will ever get over this. It has made me very suspicious of people. I don’t want to speak to people and I’m not normally like that.

“I used to love to go shopping in Exmouth but I don’t feel I’ll ever be able to go there again. This incident has changed my life. I am petrified and not sleeping.”

Exeter Crown Court heard that Herald, of Smythen Street in Exeter, is a drug addict who was living in a homeless hostel and who went into the ladies’ toilets to take cocaine because he thought it was empty. He stole the money from the bag and then hid it behind bins to go back to later. He spent the cash on crack cocaine.

Police identified him from CCTV and arrested him the next day with £1,068 worth of designer clothes which he had just shoplifted from John Lewis.

 Herald, aged 37, admitted robbery and theft. He was jailed for two years and two months and ordered to pay £150 compensation by Judge David Evans.

The judge told him: “Witnesses saw you standing over her and shaking her about as you yanked at her bag. The loss of her money takes second place to the psychological impact on her.

“It is an aggravating factor that this was in the confined space of a toilet cubicle and it clear that this enhanced her sense of fear through her entrapment in that small space.”

Herald told police he spent the stolen money on crack cocaine and said: “You need to take me to jail. I am a risk to society. If you let me out, I’ll do the same thing tomorrow.

Miss Felicity Payne, defending, said the attack was not planned and Herald was in the ladies’ toilets because he thought it would be a quiet and safe place to take cocaine.

 She said he grabbed the bag on impulse without realising the age or vulnerability of the victim. He is truly remorseful and has saved up £150 from his prison wages which he wants to pay as compensation.