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He trailed me to the ground... blood was running into my eye

By Sara Neill

Published 13/05/2015

A pensioner left battered and bruised by a mugging yards from her home feared the thug would return to her house and attack her again.

Betty Young and her elderly husband were on their way to cast their votes at lunchtime last Thursday when the attacker knocked her to the ground as they walked near the Shankill Road in Belfast.

"He ran behind me," the 79-year-old said. "I didn't see him coming or hear him. I had my handbag over my shoulder and he grabbed me from the back and trailed me onto the ground.

"I was lying face down on the pavement," she recalled. "Blood was running into my eye from a cut just above it, and my glasses were off. I was stunned.

"He was strong. I remember the force he used to pull me. He had his hood up so we couldn't see his face. By the time I lifted my head to look I just saw the back of him running away. I was dazed and thought I was going to faint."

Mrs Young's shoulder was broken in the attack, she suffered bruised ribs, a black eye and a cut on her eyebrow.

The mugger made off with Mrs Young's handbag containing her purse, which had £90 inside.

He also stole the pensioner's poll card, house keys and mobile phone, which left her even more uneasy. She feared the attacker might target her house. "I kept looking at the street, because he would've known my name and address," she said. "He could've been walking along the corner looking up to where we live.

"My house keys were in my handbag. He could've come back for more. We changed one lock right away and the Housing Executive changed the others."

After last week's attack Mrs Young was taken to hospital, her arm was put in a sling and she was given morphine patches to ease the pain in her ribs. Doctors also gave the elderly victim diazepam to help calm her nerves.

But the pensioner remained unable to sleep for four nights following the attack, and is still visibly shaken by her ordeal. She jumps every time the phone rings.

Less than a week after Mrs Young's trauma, another elderly woman was mugged in the same area.

On Monday afternoon, a woman in her 80s was treated in hospital after a robber snatched her handbag near Shankill Leisure Centre.

Mrs Young said she is shocked that both attacks happened during daylight, and says other pensioners should be on their guard.

"Please be careful," she urged. "Don't carry a handbag, or leave it open, or walk on your own. That seems to be what he's looking for. He seems to target old people that can't run after him."

Mrs Young also voiced concern for Monday's mugging victim. "I hope the other wee woman's all right," she said. "I know the feeling it gives you. It's terrifying. I only go out once a week and I always got the bus up home at supper time. I'll never do that again. If I do go, I'll get a taxi."

In the aftermath of the ordeal, Mrs Young and her husband are surrounded by 'get well soon' cards and bouquets of flowers, all brought by those living in the area.

She said: "The Shankill people, I can't thank them enough, the flowers, cards and the money is unbelievable, but I'd just rather my attacker was caught and dealt with."

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