Two of Britain’s meanest thieves were in jail after a string of thefts from a memorial, worshippers in church, hospitals, a charity shop and at a library.

Judge Niclas Parry told the pair at Caernarfon crown court: ”You have both admitted jointly offending in what can only be described as a wicked, shameful, despicable way.

“It’s difficult to imagine people stooping far lower than you have done.

“Any decent member of society would be outraged to see someone would steal from a charity shop, hospital, library, shrine, or a church. You have done all of that.

“These are offences that involved deliberate targeting of people on the basis of their vulnerability.”

Sarah Badrawy, prosecuting, said a 77-year-old worshipper had her handbag stolen from a pew as she took Holy Communion at a Bangor church last month.

The defendants ran from the church with a ten-year-old boy and tried to use a missing bank card at an ATM. An hour later another handbag was taken from a woman taking Communion at a nearby church.

 A pensioner, aged 87, visiting her sick husband at Gwynedd Hospital, Bangor, had her handbag snatched in the canteen. A nurse, 52, who took her granddaughter to a Caernarfon library found her purse stolen, and handbags were stolen from a charity shop worker and hospital cook.

Michaela Davies, aged 28, of Llain y Pebyll, Bethesda, admitted six thefts and five frauds.

The prosecution said, in July, Davies stole £300 from a cash box at a centre for healing where there was a remembrance area with candles. She was jailed for ten months.

Crack cocaine addict Aaron Roberts, 31, of the same address as Davies, admitted five thefts, three frauds, and a burglary. The judge said he had an appalling record and jailed him for 26 months.

Ffion Tomos, defending, said the single mum was remorseful and the “despicable” offences were out of character.

Sion ap Mihangel, for Roberts, said the father of six was “ashamed and disgusted” by his behaviour.

Judge Parry said at the churches they had pretended to be a family with a child and used the youngster as part of the “sham.”