Belfast Telegraph

Paralysed pensioner forced to watch as thief ransacked house, court told

By Staff Reporter

A woman who is paralysed from the neck down had to watch as an intruder ransacked her home, a court heard yesterday.

Penyo Koychev (27) is accused of entering the pensioner's house in Dungannon as a trespasser, as well as stealing the victim's phone, purse, cash and bank cards on November 3.

At a bail hearing yesterday, Dungannon Magistrates Court was told that the victim, who also has significantly impaired speech and lives alone, was in bed around 8.20pm when she heard noises outside her window and a door handle being tried.

This was followed by more noises in the house.

Two carers had just left after tending to her, but the victim realised the noises did not relate to them. It was alleged that Koychev, of Boyds Row, Armagh, had gained entry through a window and was in the process of rifling through property.

He allegedly entered the victim's room, observed her lying in bed, but proceeded to continue rummaging.

The victim was petrified and, unable to respond in any way, had to endure the sight of Koychev going through and taking her property, the court heard.

He allegedly left after around 15 minutes with the victim's purse containing cash and bank cards and also stole her phone, leaving her incapable of calling for assistance.

A short time later the two carers returned and discovered the distraught victim screaming in fear. Despite her ordeal, she managed to provide police with a very accurate description of the intruder.

The court heard that Koychev was located within an hour in the Market Square area of Dungannon with her phone in his pocket and her purse was found in undergrowth. The cash and cards have never been recovered.

During questioning, Koychev said he had been in the area of the victim's home looking for his cousin's house. He had no money and "saw an opportunity" to enter what he claimed was an empty house.

He denied waiting until the carers had left and contended on seeing the victim "lying in a hospital-type bed" he fled, taking her phone and purse.

A detective said the matter was "particularly serious given the vulnerability of the injured party" and said Koychev had a lengthy criminal record in his native Bulgaria of which 12 convictions are for theft.

The officer voiced concerns that if Koychev was given bail, "the community could be at risk from further offending".

In addition, the detective stated while in custody, Koychev appeared to think he would be released straight away "as he intended to return to Bulgaria with family that day".

The officer explained: "Koychev was incommunicado while in custody and wanted to phone his wife. She was leaving for Bulgaria that day and he believed he was going to."

A defence barrister said: "It is accepted the charge is of the utmost seriousness and of a nature beneath comment," but he pointed out his client has made full admissions adding seriousness is not a valid bail objection.

But District Judge Paul Copeland refused the application, saying: "The specific targeting of a highly vulnerable person is of genuine concern. There was also the indication of plans to leave the country."

Belfast Telegraph

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