Model fights off mugger who attempted to steal her £1,000 handbag

A thug who attacked a former model in a bid to steal her designer handbag has been jailed.' Picture; Alexander Lawrie
A thug who attacked a former model in a bid to steal her designer handbag has been jailed.' Picture; Alexander Lawrie

A THUG who attacked a former model in a bid to steal her designer handbag has been jailed.

Amerik Singh Bhai followed victim Claire Pentony as she made her back to work from a lunch break before jumping her from behind.

Picture; Alexander Lawrie

Picture; Alexander Lawrie

Bhai, 34, forced Claire to the ground and attempted to wrestle the £1000 bag from her grasp.

But the brave model managed to fight off the violent mugger and hold on to her prized Yves St Laurent designer clutch during the attack at then capital’s King Stables Road on December 12, 2016.

Claire, 27, said: “He was grabbing at my bag but there was no way I was giving it up without a fight as it is one of my favourites and cost me a small fortune.

“I punched and shouldered him off me - I just had to fight him off. I didn’t have much money in the bag at the time but the bag itself was worth fighting for.”

The designer handbag

The designer handbag

Bhai also pleaded guilty to a second sex attack on a woman where he touched her vagina over her clothing later the same day on the same street.

Bhai had previously admitted the handbag attack and the sex assault and was caged for 16 months when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court yesterday.

The court heard Bhai, from Piershill, Edinburgh, threw the defenceless former model and dancer to the ground as he attempted to grab the coveted Yves Saint Laurent handbag from her shoulder.

But she fought back and - despite losing chunks of her hair and most of her fingernails - she managed to punch and shoulder her attacker as she battled to free herself - and her £1,000 designer bag - from Bhai’s grip.

The cowardly attacker, who carried out a similar attack on a lone woman ten years ago, was then forced to run from the scene after passers-by heard Claire’s loud screams for help during the assault.

Yesterday, Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC said: “These were predatory attacks on lone women on a public street.

“You also have an analogous matter where you were sentenced to two years probation.

“I appreciate you have personal and psychological problems but for your part you have sought to minimise your part [in the offence].

“There has been little recognition or insight as to what you have done.”

Sheriff O’Grady jailed Bhai for 16 months and placed him on the sex offenders register for 10 years to mark the sex attack.

Describing the day she was attacked, Claire said: “I was walking to the Grassmarket area at lunchtime and had spotted the guy on the corner of Lothian Road as he looked really odd.

“I knew he was following me right away and I stopped near to a parked truck and let him pass me. He went through the tunnel near to the Silk nightclub and must have been hiding round the corner.

“Just as I neared the corner and I tried to pass him but he jumped on me from behind and knocked me to the ground. He threw his full weight on to me and and I was really floored and started screaming for help.

“He was grabbing at my bag but there was no way I was giving it up without a fight as it is one of my favourites and cost me a small fortune.

“I punched and shouldered him off me - I just had to fight him off. I didn’t have much money in the bag at the time but the bag itself was worth fighting for.

“It’s a rare Yves Saint Laurent clutch bag and I don’t really want to say how much its worth but I had to save for months to get it

“It wasn’t until later I realised he had pulled chunks of my hair out during the fight and most of my fingernails were gone.”

Claire’s panicked screams for help were then heard by passers-by who rushed to her aid at the capital’s King Stables Road.

Claire, who works for a capital fashion outlet, added: “I have to thank the people who came over to help me as I don’t know what would have happened otherwise.

“I just wanted to make as much noise as possible to try and scare him off but he was very strong. Those people who heard me and ran to help were really brave and helpful.”

During her modelling career Claire took part in previous Miss Great Britain and Miss Edinburgh contests and was the UK finalist in the world’s second biggest beauty pageant Miss Earth in 2009.