A MAN who is accused of robbing a handbag from an elderly nun was himself the victim of a serious assault the night before the incident, a court has heard.
Joe Roche, aged 30, of no fixed abode, appeared before a special sitting of Limerick District Court at the weekend after he was charged with robbery.
It is alleged the defendant approached two elderly nuns – aged 75 and 78 – as they were walking on O’Connell Street in the city centre at around 10.40am on Saturday last, January 3.
He is accused of snatching a handbag from one of the nuns resulting in her “staggering backwards and almost falling over” and he attempted to grab it off her.
It is further alleged the nun sustained injuries to a number of her fingers during the incident.
During a contested bail hearing on Tuesday, Garda Denis Counihan said the culprit fled on foot in the direction of Glentworth Street following the incident and that a short time later - after the alarm was raised - Mr Roche was located in a laneway 0ff Davis Street.
Limerick District Court was told he emerged from the laneway with his hands up and made admissions when confronted by gardai.
A mobile phone which was in the nun’s handbag was recovered but the handbag and remaining contents have not been located since the incident.
CCTV footage has been harvested as part of the investigation, which is continuing.
Solicitor John Herbert said his client was assaulted the previous night over a drug debt.
Garda Counihan confirmed garda are aware of the assault and that the circumstances of the incident are being investigated.
Judge Marian O’Leary was told gardai were concerned the defendant would reoffend if released on bail as he would be put under pressure to pay back the debts he owes.
Sergeant Donal Cronin said a file is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to the robbery and he sought an adjournment of the case.
Mr Hebert said his client had cooperated with gardai following his arrest and that he would abide by any conditions imposed by the court.
He added that while he does not have a permanent address, Mr Roche would be in a position to live with his sister if granted bail.
However, Judge O’Leary said she was not willing to grant bail in the circumstances.
Mr Roche was remanded in custody and the case adjourned to January 20, next for DPP’s directions.