79-year-old woman dies after handbag mugging

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The Independent Online

A murder inquiry was launched after a 79-year-old woman who was mugged in Birmingham for her handbag died in hospital from head injuries yesterday.

Annie Burman, a pensioner who lived with her son in Acocks Green, was found slumped and unconscious on a pavement near her home by a passer-by on Monday. She died in the intensive care unit of the Heartlands Hospital, Birmingham, surrounded by her family, after suffering a massive brain haemorrhage and fractured skull.

Detective Inspector Andy Hough, of West Midlands Police, said a post-mortem examination would be held. "We are treating this death as murder," he said. "We will stop at nothing to find the culprit. Mrs Burman was a lovely, sprightly woman who was immensely kind. On the day she was attacked she had attended a service at the Christian Mission Centre. She had left there with another elderly lady and she insisted on walking that lady home out of concern for her safety before heading towards her own house."

Earlier in the week, InspHough said the police were working on the assumption that she hit her head forcefully on the pavement during the robbery. Tests are being conducted on Mrs Burman's handbag, which was later found in the Grand Union Canal, near where she was attacked.

The police also believe they are close to catching her attacker after a lorry driver said he saw the mugging, which took place on Stockfield Road, Acocks Green.

"This witness has given us vital information that will help us with our investigation," said Insp Hough. "The trucker saw Mrs Burman with a man standing near her shoulder. The next thing he knew, Mrs Burman was on the ground and the man was running away clutching an object."

A man described as white, 5ft 8in with dark hair and wearing a light-coloured top, baseball cap and dark trousers was seen following the pensioner.