AN EAGLE-EYED woman who helped to bring a jewellery thief to justice has been honoured by Cumbria’s High Sheriff.

Crime novel fan Christine Mettem was visiting Carlisle with her husband Adrian when a real-life drama unfolded only yards from her parked car.

While waiting for her husband to return to their vehicle at Town Dyke Orchard, West Walls, 66-year-old Christine watched as a man started to behave oddly near a tree.

“I saw the fellow walking along the top track,” she recalled. “He was looking back behind him. He was bending down next to the tree and behaving suspiciously.

“I wondered what he was doing.”

The man was thief Michael Tinning, who only moments earlier had snatched a £1,700 necklace from Ramsdens in the nearby city centre.

Almost half a dozen police vehicles were swiftly on the scene.

Tinning, 24, of no fixed address, was captured, and Christine led officers to the tree when the missing property was located.

“Police said to me that I had saved them hours of work by using sniffer dogs,” she said.

Christine’s super sleuth work came to the attention of Carlisle’s former resident judge, Paul Batty QC, as he sent Tinning to prison for 18 months in October.

Tinning had pleaded guilty to theft having posed as a customer at the Lowther Street store the month before.

Having fled with the jewellery, the criminal was pursued through the city centre by The Lanes shopping centre cleaner Tiago Da Silva Leao.

Although the cleaner lost sight of the thief, he and Christine were said to have played vital roles in bringing him to justice.

Judge Batty recommended that the pair should receive High Sheriff awards and a ceremony was held at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday.

Although Tiago was unable to attend, Christine, of Oxfordshire, was there to receive a certificate and a cash reward from Cumbria High Sheriff Sam Rayner.

Carlisle’s current resident judge, His Honour Peter Davies, said: “Had it not been for Mr Leao, and had it not been for Mrs Mettem, this man would not have been apprehended.”

Judge Davies added: “If it is not for public-spirited people like them, we would not be as safe on the streets as we are."