Ilfracombe thief's fast track to prison

A THIEF has been fast tracked to prison, days after snatching a bag from a woman in Ilfracombe. On Monday afternoon Michael Oke, aged 30, pleaded guilty to robbery at Exeter Crown Court and was jailed. Three days earlier at 7am on Friday, he demanded mo

A THEIF has been "fast tracked" to prison, days after snatching a bag from a woman in Ilfracombe.

On Monday afternoon Michael Oke, aged 30, pleaded guilty to robbery at Exeter Crown Court and was jailed.

Three days earlier at 7am on Friday, he demanded money from a woman walking along Ilfracombe High Street on her way to work. Then he ripped her bag off her shoulder.

Detective Sergeant Austin Goss told the Gazette the victim was very shaken by her ordeal, but gave the police a good description of a man who sounded very similar to Michael Oke.


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"We were at his address within an hour of this offence being committed," said DS?Goss and the handbag was found at the address.

Oke was charged, appeared at North Devon Magistrates on Saturday, pleaded guilty at Crown Court on Monday and was sentenced straightaway.

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"That's probably one of the quickest turn arounds I have ever heard of," said DS Goss.

Oke had been due to appear at Crown Court on Monday for a different warrant, but the court decided to deal with both, giving him 12 months for the robbery and six for the other matter, a total of 18 months.

DS Goss said he understood the "fast track" approach was something the courts were keen to use more often if the defendant co-operated.

"Oke has had a considerably lighter sentence because he pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity. He was very remorseful and blamed his addiction to heroin. Hopefully now he can get the help he needs in prison.

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