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Woman left vulnerable man for dead in cupboard after beating

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 03/10/2015

A mother-of-two with 49 previous convictions who attacked a vulnerable man and left him for dead in a cupboard is to be sentenced later this month
A mother-of-two with 49 previous convictions who attacked a vulnerable man and left him for dead in a cupboard is to be sentenced later this month

A mother-of-two with 49 previous convictions who attacked a vulnerable man and left him for dead in a cupboard is to be sentenced later this month.

Rhona Mary Gracey, who was branded a "violent street drinker" by Judge Gordon Kerr, was remanded back into custody after appearing in court on charges arising from the attack, which occurred last November.

As the case against her was outlined at Belfast Crown Court, a prosecutor said the victim was "severely beaten" and had injuries that required the attentions of a hospital neurological team.

Gracey, whose address was given as Hydebank prison, admitted four charges including causing grievous bodily harm to the victim and assaulting police.

Her co-accused, 29-year-old David Adams from Shackleton Walk in Newtownards, admitted assisting offenders by helping Gracey change blood-stained clothing. He also admitted damaging an electronic tag belonging to the security company G4S.

Crown prosecutor Peter Magill told how the assault occurred on November 27 last year when Gracey and Adams went to the victim's flat in the Belgravia area of south Belfast.

Mr Magill said "drinking took place" at the flat and that the trio were there for a considerable period of time. He added that at some point Gracey launched an attack on the occupant using her fists. After being subjected to a severe beating, the injured man was then left in a walk-in cupboard in the flat.

Following the attack, Gracey and Adams left the apartment and went to the city centre, where they met up with a number of other street drinkers.

The court heard that Gracey "made a number of comments to people about how she had left somebody beaten up and didn't know whether he was dead".

The defendant also went to a shop to buy clothes to replace the blood-stained garments that she was wearing.

After police were informed of the attack, they went to the victim's flat, found the front door on the snib and heard groaning, which led them to the cupboard where they discovered the badly-beaten occupant.

In a confused state, the injured man said he had been attacked by a woman he knew as Rhona, before he was taken to hospital and treated for a number of injuries.

Mr Magill said the man was "vulnerable" and had some form of a disability before the attack. He added that since the assault, his health had deteriorated to the extent that he now needed constant care.

The prosecutor added that when Gracey was arrested on suspicion of assaulting the man, she became "extremely violent" and both resisted and assaulted police at the scene.

Barrister Denis Boyd, representing Gracey, revealed his client was currently serving a prison sentence for a previous offence, and that during her time in custody she had been "engaging positively" with the Probation Service.

He added that Gracey had got involved with an older crowd when she was a teenager, after which she started drinking "far too much" and became a street drinker from an early age.

The barrister also revealed that while his client could not remember what happened on the day in question because she was "very, very drunk", she had shown remorse and was a different person when sober.

Luke Curran, representing co-defendant Adams, said his client's offending amounted to him being present in the shop with Gracey when she bought new clothes to replace the blood-stained items she was wearing.

Telling the court Adams was "motivated to change", Mr Curran said that while in custody, his client had been attending AA meetings, undergoing trauma therapy to "deal with the ghosts of the past" and had participated in a Barnardo's parenting course "so he can be a better father" to his children.

Both Gracey and Adams were remanded back in to custody by Judge Kerr, who informed them they will be sentenced on Monday, October 12.

Belfast Telegraph

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