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09/12/2011

North's Elderly Fall Victim To Robbers

Two pensioners have been targeted in robberies in the North, one in Belfast and the latest in Lisburn.

In the latest of such attacks on vulnerable older citizens an elderly man was attacked and held down by a gang of three burglars who then threatened him with a knife.

The incident, on Thursday night saw the assailants take money at the house at Nettlehill Road in the Co Antrim city.

The Lagan Valley MLA Jonathan Craig has said the despicable attack on an elderly man in Lisburn on Thursday night is another demonstration of why a tough approach must be taken against those who harm older people.

"To break into an elderly man's home and threaten him with a knife can only be the actions of cowardly criminals.

"Such actions must be condemned in the strongest terms. It is vital that the individuals who carried out this despicable attack are brought to justice and removed from our streets. Such individuals should receive a sentence which fully reflects the seriousness of the crime," he said.

"In recent days, we have heard senior police officers say that weak sentencing is harming the morale within the police service and investigating teams.

"Indeed, there is also a clear desire across the community that tougher action must be taken when convictions are secured.

"The [Stormont] Programme for Government includes a commitment to ensure there are appropriate sentences for attacks on the elderly and vulnerable people.

"The DUP has made the issue of tougher sentences for attacks on our elderly a priority. Peter Robinson made also reinforced this message in his conference speech.

"It is vital that a tough message is sent out, that attacks on our elderly will not be tolerated," the MLA said.

Police believe there is a link between that burglary in Lisburn and one in north Belfast when three men went into a house at Dunmore Drive, Skegoneill, around 7pm and then stole money as, in both of the robberies, the thieves escaped in a silver-coloured car.

Meanwhile, the PSNI in south Belfast are appealing for information following an assault and robbery in the Laganbank Road area at the weekend where a pensioner was attacked.

It happened around 1.15pm on Sunday, and saw a 65-year-old female being pushed to the ground while the robber grabbed her handbag. A struggle ensued before the assailant made off towards Albertbridge with the bag.

She was walking towards the city centre when she was approached by a male who is described as being 5ft 10 tall, aged in his late teens to early 20s, of average build and clean-shaven.

He was wearing a light coloured sweatshirt and light coloured bottoms.

Police are appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident or has information in relation to it to contact them on 0845 600 8000.

There have been a series of attacks on older people in recent weeks, such as one in Whiteabbey in late November when two people were threatened and robbed in their own homes , taking their pension and winter fuel poverty money.

Colin Bell who is 72 and his sister Eileen, who is 81, suffered some minor injuries during the robbery.

The police said that four men entered the house in Abbeyville Gardens in Whiteabbey and then ransacked the couple's house, stealing their pension books and their winter fuel allowances, amounting to about £800.

Both were taken to hospital for their injuries but have since returned home.

Politicians later condemned that and other similar incidents.

See: MLA Condemns Whiteabbey Pensioner Assault

(BMcC)

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