herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Woman (24) punched man in a wheelchair and then robbed him

Belinda O’Sullivan has more than 100 convictions Photo Liam Burke/Press 22
Belinda O’Sullivan has more than 100 convictions Photo Liam Burke/Press 22

A woman punched a disabled man and stole his wallet after tricking him into believing she was going to help him tie his shoelaces, a court heard yesterday.

Judge Tom O'Donnell said Belinda O'Sullivan had "an appalling record", having clocked up 102 previous convictions.

He said she knew the man in the wheelchair who she robbed on Lord Edward Street, Limerick, after approaching him with an accomplice.

The man, who has cerebral palsy, was asked if he wanted help tying his shoelaces.

Distressed

"The accused took his wallet and struck the victim in the face," the judge said in Limerick Circuit Court.

The man, who was in a "very distressed" state after the incident, was helped by two passers-by who called gardai.

"A specially-trained garda and a disability advocate had to be called to deal with the man," Judge O'Donnell said.

The accused entered a beauty salon two months later, placed stolen products into a buggy and walked out without paying for the.

O'Sullivan initially told gardai following her arrest that she "was trying to help the man" in the wheelchair.

However, she later admitted robbing him.

The court heard she had "expressed remorse".

Judge O'Donnell praised the victim, "who, despite his difficulties, gave an excellent account of what happened to gardai".

"The victim felt that the accused saw him as an easy target," the judge said.

Reading his victim impact statement, judge O'Donnell said he "was nervous for a period afterward" and has "started building up his confidence".

"One hopes he continues to do so," he said. "He deserves enormous credit for the courage he has displayed."

Judge O'Donnell described the theft at the beauty salon as "a brazen exercise".

O'Sullivan (24) pleaded guilty to robbing the man, who uses a wheelchair, on May 25, 2014.

She also admitted stealing €39.14 worth of hair and beauty products from a hair salon several weeks later.

O'Sullivan committed the offences while she was on two consecutive suspended sentences for robbery, threatening to kill a garda, assaulting the same officer and possessing an imitation firearm during the same incident.

On December 19, 2013, O'Sullivan received a one-year jail sentence which was suspended for four years after she pleaded guilty to threatening to kill Gda Gavin Fisher, assaulting him and using an imitation gun when she threatened to kill him at the Travelodge, Coonagh, Limerick, on July 16, 2012.

She received a consecutive two-year sentence on the same date, which was also suspended for four years, after she pleaded guilty to robbing two men, of a mobile phone and €50 in cash, on October 11, 2010.

After taking ill in court yesterday, O'Sullivan - of McGarry House, Alphonsus Street, Limerick - was remanded in continuing custody for sentencing on all matters on June 1.

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