Pensioner accused of robbing 81-year-old woman
A pensioner has appeared in court today accused of robbing an 81-year-old woman of her late husband’s wallet.
Derry Magistrate’s Court heard that there were a number of personal effects in the wallet, including photographs, mass cards and prayers, and these were allegedly found torn up in a bin at 72-year-old Kenneth Smith’s home.
Smith, of Dundrean Park, is charged with robbery on Saturday last, May 8.
The court heard allegations that the complainant, who was described as an 81-year-old vulnerable lady, was waiting for a bus stop in the Fergleen Park area of Galliagh when a male approached and sat down next to her.
He asked the woman for £5 for heating and she told him that she didn’t have any money to spare.
As the bus approached, the woman removed the wallet which belonged to her late husband to get her bus pass.
The court heard the male allegedly came ‘uncomfortably close’ to her, snatched the wallet and pushed her before running off.
It is alleged this push caused the 81-year-old to fall to her knees.
The court was told the woman got on the bus and after arriving in the city centre a bus inspector contacted police.
A description was given on the man and what he was wearing and police checked CCTV in the area.
These enquiries led police to attend Smith’s address and he was allegedly wearing the same clothes.
The court was told his address was searched and the wallet, containing £45 was seized.
It is futher alleged that the photos and other personal effects were found torn up in a bin in the defendants living room.
During police interview, the 72-year-old allegedly admitted snatching the wallet. However, he said he couldn’t remember pushing the woman.
Opposing bail, an investigating officer said police have concerns the defendant may commit further offences.
He said that Smith suffers from alcohol induced dementia and if he continues to consume alcohol police believe he will continue to reoffend.
The officer said there were also concerns that there is a risk to the defendant himself, given the media attention this ‘horrendous incident’ has attracted.
Defence solicitor Paddy MacDermott said this incident was ‘totally out of character’ for his client and ‘arises from the health difficulties he unfortunately suffers from’.
He told the court Smith has ‘developed an obsession’ with ensuring he has enough money in his meter for electric and heating, but he was not in any financial difficulty.
Mr MacDermott said the proposed bail address was with family in Eglinton and there could be a prohibition imposed on Smith entering the Galliagh area.
Deputy District Judge Liam McStay said this was a ‘horrific allegation’ and said he found it ‘quite distressing the personal items in the purse were torn and thown away. It shows contempt for the victim.’
However, he agreed to grant bail for Smith to reside with family so he can be ‘controlled and observed’.
Judge McStay released the 72-year-old on his own bail of £200 to reside in Eglinton.
Smith is banned from entering the Galliagh area and from having any contact with the complainant. He is also prohibited from being intoxicated in a public place.
He will appear in court again on June 3.