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Man jailed for badly injuring elderly woman in Newry mugging fails to overturn conviction

By Alan Erwin

Published 05/07/2016

The elderly victim's handbag, containing a cheque-book, was snatched from her as she entered a store on John Mitchel Place in September 2013.
The elderly victim's handbag, containing a cheque-book, was snatched from her as she entered a store on John Mitchel Place in September 2013.

A man jailed for mugging an 82-year-old woman in an attack that left her badly injured has failed in a bid to overturn his conviction.

Larry Torley, 22, was appealing guilty verdicts against him for robbing the pensioner of her handbag and inflicting grievous bodily harm in Newry.

But senior judges dismissed his challenge after concluding the prosecution had established a strong circumstantial case against him.

In 2015 Torley, formerly of Yew Tree Park in Newry, received a five-year sentence for carrying out the attack - half of which will be served behind bars.

The elderly victim's handbag, containing a cheque-book, was snatched from her as she entered a store on John Mitchel Place in September 2013.

She sustained fractures to her shoulder area and severe facial and forehead bruising.

One witness to the incident described the assailant as a hooded man, while another who reported seeing a man acting suspiciously in the area picked out Torley at an identification process.

The next day a man went into a bank in the city and tried to cash a £325 cheque from the victim's account and made out to the appellant.

He left when the transaction was queried. Torley later pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation for presenting the stolen cheque, but denied carrying out the robbery.

His lawyers based their appeal on the trial judge's treatment of evidence about the bank incident.

In his charge to the jury he indicated that Torley's attempt to cash the cheque raised the question of whether that pointed to a propensity to breaking the law for financial gain.

Ruling on the challenge at the Court of Appeal, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan identified a danger in the case that jurors may have concluded that because he committed the fraud he must have committed the robbery too.

But he held that the trial judge had issued a plain warning that the cheque incident did not mean Torley was more likely to have carried out a violent offence.

"This was a strong prosecution case based on the evidence of identification... the attempt by the appellant to cash the cheque the following day, his lies at interview and the adverse inference the jury were entitled to draw as a result of his failure to give evidence," Sir Declan concluded.

"We are satisfied that this conviction is safe and accordingly the appeal is dismissed.

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