22/06/2024 5:03 PM

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Piece of That Fashion

Woman accused of robbing 95-year-old woman to be barred from Belfast city centre

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A woman accused of knocking a 95-year-old pensioner to the ground and snatching £200 she had collected for a Ukrainian war charity is to be barred from Belfast city centre, a High Court judge ordered today.

he prohibition was imposed on Aoife McDowell as part of conditions under which she was granted bail.

McDowell, 26, of Bell Steel Manor in Belfast, faces charges of robbery, causing grievous bodily harm, theft, and possession of cannabis in connection with an attack carried out last month in broad daylight.

The elderly victim suffered a fractured shoulder, extensive facial injuries and spent several days in hospital.

She was targeted in the Castle Lane area of the city centre on March 10.

Prosecutors said she was knocked to the ground by a woman who grabbed her handbag containing £200 in cash.

The pensioner had gathered the money for a Ukrainian war appeal and was attacked as she made her way to deliver it to a charity.

McDowell is allegedly connected by CCTV and clothing evidence.

She was seen leaving a nearby Boots store following the suspected theft of £71 worth of cosmetics and walking towards Castle Lane, a previous court heard.

Although the robbery was not captured on CCTV, prosecutors claim footage shows her fleeing the scene seconds later.

Police later searched her home, discovering a quantity of suspected cannabis and clothing said to match items that a witness described the robber as wearing.

The court was told she has been injecting cocaine and allegedly carried out the robbery to fund her drug habit.

McDowell denies the charges, claiming she had been at home and then with a friend.

Defence counsel Sean Mullan said his client is aware of her addiction issues and has voluntarily sought help from a GP.

The barrister added that her family are ready to rally round and provide the necessary support.

Granting bail to the accused, Mr Justice Horner imposed strict terms aimed at ensuring no potential further offences.

“I have seen the photographs (of the victim’s injuries) and I simply could not countenance that risk,” he said.

McDowell was barred from contacting any witnesses and directed to get help from a drug addiction service.

The judge also confirmed: “There is an exclusion from Belfast city centre, apart from attending court.”

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