A woman was robbed of her handbag after a night out in Birkenhead by a drunk, a court has heard.

The 50-year-old was walking home on Claughton Road when Thomas Croft approached her and punched her in the face and grabbed her handbag.

A cyclist rode by and saw them apparently fighting over a handbag and saw Croft swinging it and the woman falling to the ground, said Paul Blasbery, prosecuting.

By chance, a police car then arrived at the scene and Croft was see staggering along the road with the handbag and was arrested.

The victim was visibly shaken and upset but fortunately her only injuries was a sore neck and shoulder.

Croft, 47, of Cannon Hill, Prenton, pleaded guilty to the January 12 robbery.

John Ballam, defending, told Liverpool Crown Court that Croft, who has previous convictions, had drunk ten pints of lager that day and has an alcohol problem.

Sentencing him to 20 months' imprisonment suspended for two years the judge, Recorder Abigail Hudson said that Croft bore no resemblance that night to the man referred to in references as a decent, loving man.

She said she was concerned that he did not recognise his alcohol problem but accepted he was a good man when not drunk.

The judge placed him under supervision for two years with attendance on an alcohol rehabilitation programme.

"Perpetrators of robbery should go to prison, however in your case I am just persuaded to give you a final opportunity to prove yourself," said Recorder Hudson.