Thursday 23 November 2017

Mugger robbed elderly woman of her Christmas savings outside butcher's

Letterkenny Court. Picture: Google Maps
Letterkenny Court. Picture: Google Maps

Stephen Maguire

A woman robbed an 83-year-old lady of €1,250 after snatching her purse when she left a local butcher shop two days before Christmas.

Mum-of-three Monica Rostas appeared before Letterkenny District Court charged with robbing Bridget McElcar in Ballybofey, Co Donegal.

Rostas, 28, spotted Mrs McElcar coming out of the shop and shoved a Big Issue magazine into her face and then snatched her purse at 1pm in the afternoon.

Mrs McElcar, who has since died, managed to get the purse back but the money from the purse was missing.

Garda Inspector Michael Harrison told the court that he believed another woman involved in the robbery at Chestnut Grove, Ballybofey managed to receive the money before fleeing.

He added that Rostas, of Glenfinn Road, Ballybofey, had been threatening and abusive towards the pensioner who was vulnerable and scared.

Around €150 in cash fell to the ground and was picked up by passers-by.

Four other passers-by managed to come to Mrs McElcar's assistance and Rostas was arrested.

She initially denied any involvement and the balance of the missing money, €1,065 has never been recovered.

Barrister for Ms Rostas, Gareth McGrory, said his client admitted it was an act of "immense stupidity" which she pleaded guilty to.

He said his client had gather €2,000 from her uncle and she was prepared to provide compensation to Mrs McElcar's family.

He said she planned to leave Donegal and move to Belfast.

Judge Paul Kelly described the incident as "a despicable crime."

"This was an absolutely despicable crime on an elderly woman. I suspect it was less impulsive than you make out as there was two people involved. It seems inconceivable that this woman has no idea of where the money is.

"However, the fact that she is moving to Belfast and cash in lodged in court, I don't see any great value in a custodial sentence," he said.

He sentenced Rostas to four months in prison but suspended it for 12 months on her own cash bond of €500.

He also ordered that €1,500 of the cash lodged in court be handed over to the late Mrs McElcar's family.

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