Limerick woman who 'preyed upon' elderly man loses appeal against robbery sentence

Ruaidhrí Giblin, Dublin

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Ruaidhrí Giblin, Dublin

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Limerick woman who 'preyed upon' elderly man loses appeal against robbery sentence

The Criminal Courts of Justice

A chronic drug user who violently robbed an elderly man who was walking as part of his exercise regime following heart surgery, has lost an appeal against her sentence. 

Rebecca McNamara, aged 22, who has an address at Castlerock, Castleconnell pleaded guilty, last year, to robbing the man of €200 and a Nokia mobile phone at Davis Street, Limerick on May 14, 2016. 

Aged in his early 60s and described in court as an “easy target”, the victim had just undergone heart surgery and in order to rehabilitate himself and to prepare for further surgery. His doctors had told him to walk two miles a day.

McNamara was sentenced at Limerick Circuit Criminal Court to five years’ imprisonment with the final year suspended. 

She lost an appeal against her sentence this Thursday with the Court of Appeal holding that the sentencing judge was correct in choosing a headline sentence in the range of five to seven years. 

Giving judgment, Mr Justice John Hedigan, said the the victim, while walking towards Davis Street on the day in question, noticed a man and young woman, McNamara, standing near him. 

He was followed down a laneway and struck to the back of the head. He fell to the ground and a struggle ensued between himself and McNamara. He was kicked on the ground by her co-accused.

The two could be seen making their escape while an ambulance was called by men who had been drinking in a nearby pub. 

McNamara had 29 previous convictions including 22 for theft.

She was known to gardai as a “chronic drug user” and was subject to a suspended sentence at the time this offence was committed.

It was said that McNamara was traumatised aged 14 when she witnessed a horrific accident of a man falling from a burning building before impaling himself on railings. It was around this time that she started using drugs. 

Mr Justice Hedigan said it was a violent assault on a very vulnerable man recovering from heart surgery. His phone and wallet were stolen in a “despicable attack” in which he was struck to the back of the head and kicked on the ground.

The sentencing judge had described the victim as an “easy target”.

Mr Justice Hedigan said the sentencing judge arrived at a sentence with which the Court of Appeal could readily agree. He said a sentence of between five and seven years was within the Circuit Court judge’s range. 

He said the court could find no problem in the sentencing judge’s approach and could identify no error in principle.

Mr Justice Hedigan, who sat with Mr Justice George Birmingham and Mr Justice Alan Mahon, said the appeal was therefore dismissed.