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Elderly mugging victim: 'I'm scared, but I wouldn't like my mugger to think he's going to stop me going out'

By Sara Neill

Published 29/05/2015

Betty young with her husband Oliver at her Lower Shankill Road home
Betty young with her husband Oliver at her Lower Shankill Road home

An elderly woman who was the victim of a brutal mugging says her attacker will not keep her cooped up in her Belfast home.

Betty Young (79) was knocked to the ground as she and her husband went to cast their votes on polling day in the Shankill earlier this month.

The mugger stole Mrs Young's handbag, which contained £90 in cash, her mobile phone, her house keys and her polling card.

The attack also left the pensioner nursing a broken shoulder, bruised ribs, a black eye and cut on her eyebrow.

"The doctor thinks the bone's knitting all right, but I'm going for another X-ray," she explained. "My ribs are still sore and my arm's sore but my face is healed, and I'm able to breathe a bit better."

Three weeks after the vicious assault, Mrs Young's arm remains in a sling, and the memory of the incident fresh in her mind. "I haven't really been out, because I just don't want to go out. I'm really depressed and I've been sitting looking out the window.

"It's very upsetting for me. I'm a bit scared, but I think I'll come round and I'll be able to go out once I get this all healed up," she added.

Mrs Young's outings since the attack have been to hospital or her daughter's house, but she is determined to get back out and about as usual.

"I wouldn't like this to hold me back. I wouldn't like him to think he's going to stop me going out," she said.

"I go to a pensioners' club every Thursday, and I miss going, but I'll get a taxi there and back from now on. I wouldn't even walk to the bus stop."

In the days after the attack Mrs Young was timid and fearful. Weeks later she appeared more lively, defiant, and even had her hair done. She was keen to speak out about how vulnerable she and other local pensioners feel.

Just days after Mrs Young was mugged a second elderly woman was targeted in broad daylight. The victim, in her 80s, was robbed near Shankill Leisure Centre at lunchtime.

Mrs Young said: "I think there should be more officers on the streets.

"I'm not saying it wouldn't have happened to me or the other lady, but that road is ridiculous for pensioners getting mugged.

"If there were more police the thugs that are running about the Shankill would think twice before they'd mug any pensioner.

"It'd give me peace of mind too," she added.

Mrs Young, whose husband Oliver previously suffered a stroke, believes criminals see elderly people as easy targets. "It's ridiculous," she said. "Pensioners can't even walk about the street in daylight. When is it all going to stop?"

Buoyed by flowers and cards from friends and neighbours, Mrs Young said she was starting to get her confidence back.

"I'm not saying it'll keep me in, but I'll always be looking about me when I do go out," she said.

"The person who did this shouldn't be on the streets again, but there's not only him out there, there's other ones.

"If he'd said to me 'give me your purse', I'd have given him it, instead of going through all that.

"They must have mothers and grandmothers of their own. Would they like anyone to do it to them? It's just all wrong."

For Mrs Young, the few steps from her home to the Shankill Road are a more difficult journey than they were this time last month, but it's one she wants to make.

However, the lasting effect of the attack means the pensioner will always be more vigilant about who else is on the street.

"Be careful when you're carrying a bag," she advised other elderly people. "When you see young ones about, cross to the other side of the street. That's what I would do, and keep looking behind me."

A 17-year-old has since appeared before Belfast's Youth Court on robbery charges.

Belfast Telegraph

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