Slapped in the face and robbed at home... cruel thieves target frail Josie (88) for a third time
Shameless thieves have targeted a vulnerable elderly woman for the third time.
Josie Hamilton (88) was robbed in her home off the Shankill Road by a gang on Wednesday night.
They stole a sizeable amount of cash and a bank card and slapped her in the face before pulling her telephone cable out of the wall.
Josie's neighbours came to her aid when they heard her calling for help after the attack.
Yesterday the frail pensioner was recovering from her injuries in hospital.
The local community responded with disgust to the latest attack on Josie, who was mugged in 2011 as she walked along Agnes Street. Two years later the pensioner was robbed in her home.
Ian McLaughlin from the Lower Shankill Community Association said people were outraged.
"The most shocking of it all is that this is the third time that this lady has been the victim of this type of crime," he added. "The first incident happened in 2011, when she was attacked on the public highway on Agnes Street, then in late 2013 in her own home, then last night again. It is absolutely shameful."
Mr McLaughlin urged elderly people in the area to keep their doors locked during both the day and night and to check the identity of all callers.
He said that he understood that when Josie was attacked in her home in 2013, callers to her door claimed they intended to return cash they had stolen from her earlier.
"They gained entrance by convincing her that they were returning money from a previous attack," he added.
"Instead, they robbed her again.
"On behalf of our association, we outright condemn this attack on Josie, and we would urge anyone with information - no matter how small - to pass it on to the PSNI immediately."
North Belfast DUP MLA William Humphrey also spoke out against the cowardly attack on vulnerable Josie, saying he was appalled by what had happened.
"Party colleagues and I have spoken to neighbours of this 88-year-old lady who is being treated in hospital for the effects of this brutal attack," he added.
"I regret to say that this lady was the victim of a similar burglary just four years ago - making it all the more appalling that she has been targeted once again."
Mr Humphrey slammed the attack as both cowardly and savage and told this paper: "It is hard to comprehend the depravity of those who would carry out such a brutal and selfish attack against a defenceless senior citizen.
"The cowards responsible for this aggravated burglary are beneath contempt and they must be brought to justice.
"I urge anyone who can assist the police to catch those responsible to pass on any information they have without delay."
The DUP man also commended the neighbours who rushed to Josie's aid after they heard her calling out in distress.
"This lady is well-known in the local community and has lived in the Shankill area all her life," Mr Humphrey said.
"This assault and burglary will sadly increase fear of similar incidents, although such incidents are very rare."