Tuesday 25 October 2016

Men dragged woman (97) out of bed before stealing jewellery in 'nightmare' Christmas Eve attack, court told

Ciaran Murphy

Published 19/01/2016 | 17:22

Waterford Court House
Waterford Court House

A WOMAN in her late 90s yesterday told a jury how a couple of men “in navy suits” broke into her house on a Christmas Eve and tore her out of bed before making away with expensive pieces of jewellery in a real life “nightmare”

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Angela Falconer (97), of 9 Bellevue Tce on John’s Hill in Waterford city, went to her bed at about 11.45pm in her downstairs sitting room on December 23rd 2014.  However, she was awoken within an hour of going to sleep by two men who she said were wearing navy or dark suits.

Sean Gaffney (24), of 269 St John's Park, Waterford City has pleaded not guilty to charges of robbery, burglary, assault and criminal damage at the house on the date in question.

During her evidence yesterday, the brave woman even described her assailants as “two twerps”.

At Waterford Circuit Court yesterday, Angela told Noel Whelan, prosecuting counsel: “I was awakened when I was dragged out of bed.  I thought it was a nightmare until I realised two men pulled me out of bed.

“They started going, ‘Where’s the money?’.”  She told them that she had none but the men continued repeating the question.

A jury was impanelled in the case in the temporary Waterford courthouse at the old Grace Dieu premises yesterday morning, but had to be taken to Kilkenny Courthouse in the afternoon as the former does not have videolink facilities.

Ms Falconer is deemed too frail to attend court proceedings.

Plucky Angela, who lives alone and sleeps in a downstairs living room, described how she had to lock herself in the bathroom of the home she has been living in for 69 years when assailants broke in the early hours of Christmas Eve 2014.

She added: “They caught me and threw me on my back on the ground.  There was broken glass from the broken window.

“They were rooting around and when I saw that I got up off my back.  I don’t know how; it was as if someone brought me into the bathroom.  I locked the door and didn’t make a sound.”

Angela explained how she could hear the men, who she believed were aged “23 or 24”, rummaging around and through drawers.

While she had seen their faces she could not remember what their faces looked like.  “I was so confused, I thought it was a dream.”

The elderly woman, who admitted that she was “terrified”, was thankful to have been wearing heavy pajamas that protected her from the broken glass.

The thieves made away with her mother’s expensive jewellery and a string of pearls was found on nearby John’s Hill.

She said that she wasn’t away of the intruders until she was dragged from her bed.  She somehow made it to the bathroom.  “I kept myself locked in after the treatment they gave me…I was terrified.”

After some time, petrified Angela opened the bathroom door and raised the alarm by contacting her “helper” who in turn rang Angela’s family members.

Elaine Morgan, defending, put it to Angela that she had told gardai how the suits were beige and “light” in colour but the she maintained that they were always navy.  She also denied that she was told that the men looked aged 23 or 24.

“They were two twerps; that’s what I call them.”

The trial continues at Waterford Circuit Court.


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