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File image of hte Criminal Courts of Justice in Dublin Alamy Stock Photo

Woman jailed over role in two robberies, including one in which a 79-year-old man was stabbed

The judge said these were ‘most serious’ offences and handed down a total sentence of 10 years, with the final 18 months suspended.

A WOMAN HAS been jailed for her role in two robberies including one in which a 79-year-old widower was attacked with a clawhammer and stabbed multiple times.

The man had opened his front door to a woman who sought shelter from the rain, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court previously heard.

The pensioner knew the woman as Christine Ward (36) as she had called to his address five or six times previously asking for money and each time he had given her sums of €5, €10 or €20.

Once Ward was in the hallway, the court heard, she was followed into the house by her former partner Derek Bewley who was wielding a claw hammer.

Christine Ward (36) pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at a house in Artane on 2 November, 2018, with seven other counts taken into consideration.

Derek Bewley (48) pleaded guilty to possession of a hammer and stealing a wallet containing €600 during the same incident.

The former couple also pleaded guilty separately to robbing a wallet and an iPhone from a visually impaired man earlier on the same date, 2 November, 2018, on Dublin’s North William Street.

Ward, with an address at De Paul Ireland, Little Britain Street, Dublin 7, was today jailed for eight and a half years.

Imposing sentence on Ward today, Judge Orla Crowe said these were “most serious” offences and handed Ward a total sentence of 10 years, with the final 18 months suspended.

The judge said it was an aggravating factor that this was offending against especially vulnerable members of society.

She also noted the breach of trust in relation to the elderly man who had previously given Ward money on a number of occasions.

Judge Crowe noted the mitigation and Ward’s remorse, adding that while Ward saw herself as a victim of her very difficult childhood, there were only two victims in court.

Her co-accused Bewley, with an address at North William Street Flats, Dublin 1, is due to be sentenced on Thursday, 1 February.

At a previous sentence date, Garda Brian Morrissey told prosecuting counsel that the 79-year-old widower had answered his doorbell at 8pm on the night to Ward, who asked if she could come in for a minute out of the rain.

Ward came into the man’s hallway and started crying, saying her cancer was back and she couldn’t take it anymore, adding: “How can I tell my kids I’m going to die?”

Her phone then lit up and her co-accused, Bewley, came into the hallway with a clawhammer shouting and demanding money.

A struggle ensued when the widower tried to grab the clawhammer and he was struck on the ear with it, shattering his hearing aid.

The man was also being stabbed repeatedly on his hands and was bleeding heavily as he made his way from his front door to his kitchen, leaving a trail of blood.

Ward and Bewley robbed the man’s wallet which contained €600 in cash.

They also stole his phone and his Skoda Octavia car.

Because he had no car, the victim had to walk from Artane to Coolock village to summon help from his son.

He was brought to Beaumont Hospital and a medical report said he had been stabbed multiple times with a kitchen knife.

He received 25 stitches in his hands and arms and sustained bruising to his ear.

In a victim impact statement read out on his behalf, the man said his economic losses totalled €4,775.

This figure includes the loss of the cash in his wallet, his house keys, his car keys and his phone worth €900.

The court heard his hallway and kitchen had to be redecorated due to damage caused by blood spattering at a cost of €3,000.

The man said he was a quiet, deeply private person who has lost his independence and his privacy since the night he was attacked in his own home.

He said he suffers PTSD and gets startled every time he hears the doorbell ring.

He has become reliant on sleeping tablets and has lost all trust in people, the court heard.

The man said his life changed forever when someone that he had shown kindness and charity to came to his house armed and with an accomplice.

He said he genuinely thought he was going to die that night and that his son had to move in with him afterwards to ensure his safety.

“My faith is very important to me and it’s clear that it was only for the grace of God that I survived that night,” the man wrote.

He said he used to enjoy going to the post office to collect his pension and having cash in his wallet and that he no longer does this anymore.

Judge Crowe asked if Ward did have cancer at the time and her defence counsel, Cathal McGreal BL, replied: “There was no cancer but there certainly are children.”

In relation to the second robbery, Garda Shane McGrath told Jennifer Jackson BL, prosecuting, that he was alerted of the robbery and he met the victim, a 56-year-old visually impaired man who had been walking from the post office when he was mugged.

The man said a girl and a guy came up to him from behind and grabbed his wallet from his back pocket.

He initially thought it was just a girl but then noticed another hand and a struggle ensued.

The victim said the man stabbed his right hand and his lower waist nine times with a sharp object and that the girl stabbed him on the left side of his face.

During the struggle, the man’s iPhone worth €300 fell out of his pocket and the girl took it and both accused ran away.

The victim was brought to the Mater Hospital and prepared a victim impact report which was read out on his behalf.

The damage to his phone cost €280, while the repair of his specialist glasses cost €320.

He suffered stab wounds under his left eye and nine stab wounds to his arm.

The man said he no longer goes near groups and doesn’t go out at all after 6pm.

He said he feels afraid and very vulnerable due to his visual impairment.

The court heard that when Ward was arrested, she initially denied all involvement but later identified herself in CCTV footage.

Bewley has 79 previous convictions including theft, drugs offences, assault, criminal damage and production of an article.

Ward has 25 previous convictions, all from the District Court, including 18 road traffic offences and others for theft and drugs.

Mr McGreal said his client has no history of violence and that she and Bewley were both long-standing drug users.

Ward took a trial date but failed to show on her trial date and pleaded guilty last October, the court heard.

Mr McGreal said Ward was herself very vulnerable and the mother of three children whom she visits regularly.

The court heard that she was born into the Travelling community and suffered greatly after the death of her brother in a car accident when she was 11.

Ward has been homeless since the age of 16 when she ran away to avoid an arranged marriage, the court heard.

She told gardaí she had only ever been clean of drugs for two weeks.

Counsel said all of Ward’s previous partners had been violent to her, causing her to be hospitalised several times.

She has since expressed significant remorse for her offences and accepts her role in all the offences, saying it was about getting money for drugs.

She has reduced her methadone intake by a third since going into custody and is undertaking several education and training courses, the court heard.

Ward has self-awareness and insight to the point of self-hatred, counsel said, and described the pensioner she had stolen from as being a very generous man.