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Woman jailed for aggravated burglary of elderly widower

A woman has been jailed for eight-and-a-half-years for robbing a visually impaired man and attacking and the aggravated burglary of a 79-year-old widower in two separate attacks within hours of each other.

Christine Ward, who is 36 and has an address at Little Britain street in Dublin 7, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at a house in Artane in November 2018 in which the victim, who is now 84, was attacked with a clawhammer and stabbed.

Her partner at the time, Derek Bewley, has pleaded guilty to possession of a hammer and stealing a wallet containing €600 during the same incident.

The former couple also pleaded guilty to robbing an iPhone from the 56-year-old visually impaired man a few hours earlier on North William Street in Dublin.

Judge Orla Crowe sentenced Ward to a total of 10 years with the final 18 months suspended.

She said this was offending against especially vulnerable members of society and a gross breach of trust in relation to the elderly man who had previously given Ward money on several occasions.

The judge added that although Ward saw herself as a victim of her very difficult childhood, there were only two victims in court.

The court heard Ward called to the elderly man’s home on the afternoon of 2 November 2018 and asked if she could come out of the rain.

She began crying and asked the man how she would tell her kids her cancer was back. Bewley then came into the hallway holding a clawhammer and demanding money.

The elderly man tried to grab the clawhammer and was struck on the ear, breaking his hearing aid. He was also stabbed repeatedly on his hands leaving a significant trail of blood on the floor, the judge said.

The couple took his wallet, containing €600, as well as his phone and his car.

The man had to walk from Artane to Coolock to get help from his son.

He told the court in a victim impact statement that he survived “by the grace of God.” He said he suffered from PTSD and had lost his independence and his privacy since that night.

The court heard that earlier that day Ward and Bewley mugged the visually impaired man as he left the post office.

He was stabbed on his right hand, his lower waist and on his face. His phone fell out of his pocket and Ward took it and ran away. He told the court he no longer goes out after 6pm and feels very afraid and vulnerable.

The court heard Ward suffers from bipolar disorder, has had psychiatric admissions from the age of 12, is from a traveller background, has limited education and difficulties in relation to sexual abuse when she was a child. She was also addicted to crack cocaine and heroin.

She has expressed remorse for her part in the attacks, which she at first blamed on her co accused.

Judge Crowe said bench warrants had had to be issued for Ward in both cases.

She said the attack on the elderly man was a gross breach of trust as she had received charity from him.

He had been deliberately targeted, and she had made up lies to get into his house.

She said although Ward was remorseful, she also saw herself as a victim of her own childhood, but the judge said there were only two victims in court.

She described the offences as deeply serious and said they merited consecutive sentences.

She sentenced Ward to four-and-a-half-years for the robbery and five-and-a-half-years for the aggravated burglary but suspended the final eighteen months, meaning Ward will be jailed for a total of eight-and-a-half-years.

Bewley is due to be sentenced on Thursday.

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