Jailed: Man who stole mobile phone from woman dying after city centre car park plunge

Ben Heney, 23, was spotted on CCTV taking the 22-year-old woman's Samsung phone after finding her seriously injured

A thief stole a mobile phone from a student as she lay dying in the street.

Rachel Jardine, 22, was found collapsed on a pavement in Bloom Street in the city centre after plunging from a multi-storey car park.

She had used the phone to speak to her mum just moments before the fall. A passer-by was trying to help her when callous Ben Heney struck. Heney tried to rouse her then spotted her £150 phone.

Manchester magistrates heard how heartless Heney, 23, hid the mobile in his hat and walked away – before selling it to an unknown man for £20.

The shocking theft was caught on CCTV and Heney was traced hours later.

Heney, of Fulton Street, Hulme, was jailed for 12 weeks yesterday after he admitted the theft.

Rachel, a philosophy student at Manchester University, was taken to hospital after the fall at 12.45am on Wednesday, but died from her injuries.

The stolen mobile was tracked down by a reporter from the M.E.N. last night.

We handed it over to officers at Longsight police station and it was taken away to be analysed, before being given back to the family.

Detective Sergeant Mark Astbury, said: “The family have told us they are grateful to the public response to our appeal and the efforts of the MEN reporter.

“After Heney was sentenced yesterday for his appalling actions, all we wanted was for the woman’s phone to be given back to her family so they could pass on the tragic news and this can now happen.”

Friends and fellow students have spoken of their shock on social networking sites. Rachel is thought to be originally from Bristol. One tribute said: “I really miss you. Things will never be the same without you.”

Another said: “I can’t believe what has happened.”

She sent friends a quotation from French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre in a final Twitter message just an hour and a half before her fall. In another message left a day earlier she had said: “I love you Manchester, but you’re bringing me down.”

University officials confirmed Rachel was studying for a master’s degree in philosophy at the School of Social Sciences.

It is thought she had only recently had her birthday.

The court heard how Heney was spotted on CCTV and arrested as he walked past the scene at 4pm later the same day.

His solicitor said he deeply regretted the ‘opportunist’ theft and was unaware of the tragic circumstances.

District Judge Jonathan Taaffe, sentencing Heney, said: “I accept you were not aware of the full facts and have shown remorse. But you took advantage of a young lady in a prone position… and clearly injured.”

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Rachel’s death.

Det Sgt Mark Astbury said: “We come across crimes from time to time that shock and disgust even the most experienced officers and this is one such incident. To deliberately steal from a dying woman instead of offering assistance is unforgivable.”


copyright:  Manchester Evening News  Exclusive by Dean Kirby and Stan Miller


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