Belfast Telegraph

Pensioner hits out after man who threatened to cut his throat avoids prison

By Staff Reporter

A Belfast pensioner who was brutally assaulted and robbed in his own home has said he feels disgusted by the sentence handed out to his attacker.

Tommy Crawford (73), from Ardoyne, said he feels betrayed by the judicial system and that the whole community has been left feeling angry and upset.

Brendan Joyce (27), from Lower Saintfield Street, Belfast, appeared at Laganside Court on April 17 charged with burglary and assault occasioning actual bodily harm in connection with the incident in August 2016.

After pleading guilty to the charges he was sentenced to 100 hours of community service, placed on probation for two years and ordered to pay £120 compensation to the victim.

Judges are bound by sentencing guidelines and must take into account mitigating circumstances, such as early guilty pleas, co-operation with police and remorse, as well as aggravating factors such as intent and excessive violence.

But the sentence, said Mr Crawford, has left him feeling let down by the courts.

"There were a lot of angry people when they heard the news of the sentence," he said.

"And the first I heard about the court case was in a letter telling the verdict and what his sentence was. I didn't even know the man was due in court."

"There doesn't seem to be any thought for me, the victim of the crime," he continued.

"You hear stories of people getting jail sentences for similar offences and now people are up in arms.

"He's allowed to walk the streets after what he put me through and that isn't right."

Tommy, who suffers from multiple health problems, was beaten in his bed when his attacker gained entry to his home. "This man pulled a knife and threatened to cut my throat," he said.

"I'd gone to bed early with my wee dog.

"I woke up when the dog started barking and the next thing the bedroom door just busted open and I saw this dark shadow-like figure.

"I thought I was dreaming at first but then I just felt a punch on the side of my head.

"He was shouting, 'Give me money or I'll kill you'.

"I took a swipe at him and he fell into the corner, but when he stood back up he said, 'I've a knife and I'll cut your throat, get me money now'," Mr Crawford said.

The intruder then marched the terrified pensioner downstairs at knifepoint.

"He got £120 but he was shouting, 'That's not enough, I need £1,000'.

"I told him I didn't have that kind of money."

The man ran off after spending almost half an hour in the Belfast pensioner's home.

"It's hard to believe the sentence they gave him," Mr Crawford continued.

Belfast SDLP councillor Paul McCusker said the attack on the popular Ardoyne man was "cowardly" and had shocked people at the time.

He continued that he had serious questions to ask after sentence was passed last week.

"Tommy is a local character in Ardoyne and is well known. He has played a huge part in the community for many years through his love for music, and has raised large amounts of money for charity," he explained.

"There was a lot of upset at the attack on him at the time and now there is a lot of anger at the sentence that's been passed.

"I would have thought it would have been a lot stronger. We have to send a strong message that attacks on vulnerable, elderly people, especially in their own homes, will be dealt with severely. I will be raising the issue on his behalf and he has the whole community behind him."

Belfast Telegraph

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