A woman punched a disabled man and robbed his wallet after tricking him into believing she was going to help him tie his shoelaces, a court heard today, writes David Raleigh.
Belinda O'Sullivan, (aged 24), pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court, to robbing the wheelchair-bound man, on May 25th, 2014.
She also pleaded guilty to robbing €39.14 worth of hair and beauty products from a hair salon, on July 2, 2014.
O'Sullivan carried out the robberies 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 Garda Gavin Fisher, assaulting Gda Fisher, and using an imitation gun when she threatened to kill the officer, at the Travelodge hotel, 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 cash, on October 11, 2010.
Presiding judge, Tom O'Donnell, said O'Sullivan, of McGarry House, Alphonsus Street, Limerick, had "an appalling record" having clocked up 102 previous convictions.
The court heard that O'Sullivan, who knew the victim, robbed the man on Lord Edward Street, Limerick, after approaching him with an accomplice.
The victim, who has cerebral palsy, was asked if he wanted help tying his shoelaces.
"The accused took his wallet and struck the victim in the face," the judge said.
The man who was in a "very distressed" state after the incident was helped by two passers by who called gardaí.
"A specially trained Garda and a disability advocate had to be called to deal with the man," the judge said.
The accused robbed a beauty salon two months later when she placed stolen products into a buggy and walked out without paying for the items.
Following her arrest, O'Sullivan initially told gardaí that she "was trying to help the man" in the wheelchair, however she later admitted robbing him.
The court heard she had "expressed remorse" for committing the robberies.
Judge O'Donnell praised the male victim, "who despite his difficulties, gave an excellent account of what happened to gardaí".
"The victim felt that the accused saw him as an easy target," the judge said.
Reading the man's victim impact statement, judge O'Donnell said he "was nervous for a period afterward" and has "started building up his confidence".
The judge added: "One hopes he continues to do so."
"He deserves enormous credit for the courage he has displayed," he said.
Judge O'Donnell described the robbery at the beauty salon as "a brazen exercise".
O'Sullivan, who took ill during today's sentencing hearing, also appeared in court for the activation of two previously suspended consecutive sentences for robbery totalling three years.
Judge O'Donnell remanded her in continuing custody for sentencing on June 1.