Homeless thief who snatched dummies from babies' mouths because he was 'never weened from soothers' is jailed

8 February 2024, 16:27 | Updated: 8 February 2024, 16:30

Josh Guilder, 23, swiped dummies from five youngsters around Harlow, Essex, between February 10 and August 7 last year, police said
Josh Guilder, 23, swiped dummies from five youngsters around Harlow, Essex, between February 10 and August 7 last year, police said. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

A homeless man who snatched dummies from babies' mouths and took them back to his tent to 'soothe himself' has been jailed for 14 months.

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Josh Guilder, 23, swiped dummies from five youngsters around Harlow, Essex, between February 10 and August 7 last year, police said.

Guilder "has never been weaned from dummies" and uses them to "soothe himself", his lawyer Mary Buxton told Chelmsford Magistrates' Court last August.

"He said he would take the dummy, then go and sit in the tent and use the dummy," she said.

The lawyer described the thefts of snatching the dummies from babies in their pram as "purely acquisitive".

Guilder was arrested after police released an image of a man they wanted to speak to in connection with the incidents
Guilder was arrested after police released an image of a man they wanted to speak to in connection with the incidents. Picture: Essex Police

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Essex Police said Thursday that Guilder was convicted at an earlier hearing of five counts of theft, three counts of common assault, and a public order offence.

The force said Guilder was arrested on August 15 last year after police released an image of a man they wanted to speak to in connection with the incidents.

A series of reports warned of a man approaching people with babies and removing their dummies - centred around the Staple Tye Shopping Centre in Woodcroft.

On one occasion a child was assaulted, police said, while other incidents saw the soothers directly swiped from the babies' mouths.

Guilder was sentenced at Colchester Magistrates' Court to 14 months in prison, Essex Police said, with the hearing taking place on February 2.

Chief Inspector Paul Austin, District Commander for Harlow, said: "I know these incidents caused concern in our community and I'm pleased we've been able to identify the person responsible and hold him accountable."

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