Belfast Telegraph

'Cowardly' mugger who robbed pensioner is jailed for five years

A "cowardly" mugger who robbed a 67-year-old woman in the street has been branded as dangerous and jailed for five years.

As well as the five year jail term, Belfast Crown Court Judge Gordon Kerr QC also ordered that when released by the parole commissioners when they decide it's safe to do so, 28-year-old Stephen Rocks will spend a further three years on licence to protect the public.

The robbery on the Ormeau Road on June 23 last year was the last of three incidents involving Rocks, the court heard.

Prosecuting lawyer Gary McCrudden said the first incident was when Rocks and his fiancee had a fight and despite him punching her and grabbing her by the hair, Michelle Hammer fought back and punched him in the face, leaving him with a black eye.

A few hours after that incident, Rocks ordered a taxi to take him to Turf Lodge but on the way, the driver was told by his depot that Rocks had no cash to pay the fare, so he drove to Ballynafeigh PSNI station.

Once out of the car however, Rocks became verbally and physically aggressive, swinging punches at the driver.

Mr McCrudden said it was a short time after that incident when the pensioner had withdrawn £50 from an ATM when Rocks came up behind her, shoved her to the ground and snatched the cash.

While he was arrested within a few hours of the incident at his home in Winchester Park in Carryduff, his elderly victim was taken to hospital where she was treated for cuts, bruises and a fractured pelvis.

The lawyer revealed how Rocks' vulnerable victim had been left badly shaken by the incident and still suffers flashbacks, does not like going out in big crowds, is paranoid of going to the cash machine and of people walking behind her.

During interviews Rocks refused to answer police questions but later pleaded guilty to robbery, causing the pensioner actual bodily harm and two counts of assault.

Jailing him on Tuesday, Judge Kerr said it had been a "cowardly act" and told Rocks he agreed with probation's assessment, that due to his previous record - including convictions for violence - and the facts of this case, he posed a significant risk of causing serious harm to the public so was imposing an extended jail term.

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