Belfast Telegraph

Elderly woman robbed of her savings in Belfast's Kennedy Centre - just minutes after closing bank account

One of the accused is the son of Gerard Devlin, who was stabbed to death in a fight outside his west Belfast home in 2006

By Alan Erwin

Two men allegedly stole nearly £6,000 in savings from an 80-year-old woman just after she closed her bank account, a court heard today.

Police claimed the pensioner was targeted in a distraction-style theft carried out in broad daylight at a west Belfast supermarket cafe.

Details emerged as the two accused were remanded into custody at the city's Magistrates Court.

Gerard Devlin, 24, of Colinglen Road, Dunmurry, and Nathan Finn, 21, with a hostel address on Belfast's Malone Road, are jointly charged with stealing £5,739 from the elderly victim.

A judge was told thieves struck after she had been to a Danske Bank branch at the Kennedy Centre on the Falls Road on October 31.

Having closed her ISA account she had taken the cash with her into a cafe at a nearby Sainsbury's store.

An investigating police officer claimed the defendants were then seen on CCTV entering and paying close attention to the pensioner.

Finn allegedly picked up a bottle of water and distracted the woman while standing behind her in the queue.

Devlin then reached into her handbag and took a plastic bag containing the cash, it was claimed.

No details were disclosed on whether the money has been recovered.

But the officer said: "Police view this as a premeditated theft. They were seen to converse with and watch the victim."

He claimed those who stole the savings knew what was in the bag.

Describing the elderly victim as vulnerable, he added: "It has left her in a state of distress.

"She is now having alarms installed in her house; it has frightened her."

Finn accepted he is seen on the CCTV footage but claimed he was only buying water and knew nothing about any theft.

Defence solicitor Adrian Harvey told the court his client remained in the store for 30 seconds after the bag was taken.

"His mother has given instructions that since the incident she has seen no signs of sudden wealth," Mr Harvey added.

Devlin, whose father Gerard Devlin Sr was stabbed to death in a fight outside his west Belfast home in 2006, was said to have made no-comment during questioning.

His barrister, John O'Connor, argued that there is no evidence of any interaction between Devlin and the victim.

But District Judge Fiona Bagnall refused both defendants' bail applications, citing the risk of re-offending.

The pair were remanded into custody to appear again by video-link on December 18.

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