Belfast Telegraph

Man (71) who robbed OAPs to send cash to female in Colombia jailed

By Ashleigh McDonald

A 71-year-old Belfast man who preyed on and robbed elderly women for money which he then sent to an online female friend in Colombia has been handed a seven-year jail sentence.

Belfast Crown Court heard yesterday that the eldest victim in Robert Rodney Stanley Archer’s crime spree was 92 and that some of those he robbed sustained injuries either by being pushed by him, putting up a fight or trying to chase after him.

The court also heard the father-of-seven began offending to raise money after embarking on the romantic online relationship.

Archer, from Upper Newtownards Road in Dundonald, admitted robbing six women, trying to rob a seventh and stealing money from a further three pensioners.

Sentencing Archer, Judge Patrica Smyth told him: “I cannot find the words to describe your criminality. All of the victims were very elderly ladies, targeted specifically because of their vulnerability.

“You preyed on them. You watched them as they collected their pension, or withdrew money from a cash machine, or simply walked along the street.”

Archer’s offending began in April last year and came to an end following a botched robbery at a bus stop in east Belfast in February.

A prosecutor said that on April 15, 2016, a 73-year-old had just collected her pension from the post office and was walking on the Comber Greenway with the aid of a zimmer frame when she was targeted by Archer. She was pushed to the ground and had her handbag, which contained £120, taken.

Ten days later, a 91-year-old was robbed on her doorstep following a trip to the post office and sustained a head wound after being brought to the ground as Archer made off with £500.

On December 9, a 92-year-old was approached from behind in the Dundela Flats area and her handbag was taken by force. A total of £30 was taken and the elderly woman sustained a fractured arm and bruising to her fingers after she fell giving chase.

The final incident occurred in February, when Archer tried but failed to steal an 81-year-old woman’s bag.

He approached her at a bus stop on the Belmont Road, where he tried to grab her bag. She shouted ‘no way’ and struck him with her walking stick.

The prosecutor said Archer was arrested on February 2 on the Belmont Road as police had been aware of the spate of robberies.

Archer initially denied the offences, but later admitted to all 10 charges. He told police he had formed a relationship with a woman in Colombia and that he had transferred large sums of money to her.

Defence barrister Ian Turkington said his client had accepted reponsibility and also acknowledged it would have been a “frightening experience” for the victims.

Mr Turkington said that despite having seven children, Archer spent every day on his own and it was against this backdrop that he became involved  online with the Colombian woman. This in turn led to “desperate attempts to get money”.

He told the court the pensioner was “someone who is vulnerable himself” as he “fell victim to a scam” which led to this “totally irrational behaviour”.

Passing sentence, Judge Smyth said she had taken into consideration Archer’s age and his guilty plea, which spared the elderly victims the stress of coming to court.

The pensioner — who has asthma and diabetes — will spend half his sentence in prison with the remainder spent on licence.

Speaking after proceedings, Detective Inspector Natalie McNally said: “The sentence handed to him at court should act as a deterrent to others.”

Belfast Telegraph

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