Paralysed woman watched in horror from bed as burglar ransacked house
A callous burglar who invaded the Dungannon home of a severely disabled woman, knowing she was helpless to intervene, has been jailed for four years.
The terrified victim was forced to watch in horror, while her property was rifled through and items stolen.
Penyo Koychev (29) of Boyds Row, Armagh admitted entering the victim's home and stealing her phone, purse, cash and bank cards.
He appeared for sentencing at Dungannon Crown Court, where penalty Judge Stephen Fowler QC said the offence was "callous, premeditated and lacking in empathy".
Paralysed from the neck down, with significantly impaired speech and living alone, the victim was in bed around 8.20pm on November 3 last year. Two nurses had just left after tending to her, when she heard noises and a door handle being tried.
Koychev then entered the victim's room, observed her lying in bed but undaunted, proceeded to rummage in drawers and cupboards. Petrified and unable to respond in any way, the victim had to endure the sight of Koychev going through and taking her belongings.
He located her handbag containing a purse, cash and bank cards, then before leaving, took her phone, leaving her incapable of calling for assistance.
A short time later the nurses returned and discovered the front door lying open and the distraught victim screaming in fear.
Despite her ordeal she provided police with an accurate description of Koychev who was located the same night in the Market Square area of Dungannon.
The victim's phone was in his pocket and her purse was found discarded in undergrowth, although the cash and cards were never recovered. At the scene, he denied involvement but later accepted all after arrest.
During interview Koychev said he had been in the area of the victim's home looking for his cousin's house. Claiming to have no money he "saw an opportunity" to enter what he maintained was an empty house, through a window.
Koychev admitted knowing the victim was very sick as she was lying in a hospital-type bed.
Judge Fowler said: "Despite this, he continued to go through all the rooms in the house with impunity, and stole from a woman who was well aware what was going on but could do absolutely nothing due to her illness. Yet the defendant, with knowledge she was seriously ill, continued to callously steal from one of the most vulnerable members of our community."
Imposing a sentence of four years imprisonment, which by statue is required to be equally divided between immediate and supervised custody, the judge said: "As culpability is high, the harm to the victim, very significant and the need to protect the most vulnerable, a deterrent sentence is appropriate."
Appeared stunned by this, Koychev wept. He is also to pay the victim £500 (€581) compensation.