Two foreign nationals accused of targeting Co Antrim pensioners for burglaries
Two foreign nationals accused of burgling a 94-year-old woman allegedly targeted other pensioners living in facilities across Co Antrim, the High Court heard on Thursday.
Prosecutors claimed the pair, a woman aged 22 and a 17-year-old youth, tried to carry out further raids at four different care homes earlier this month.
Zakelina Sarkozlova, a Slovakian of Martin Park in Newtownabbey, and her co-accused, who cannot be identified, claim they only went to the premises to seek work.
Refusing bail to both defendants, Mrs Justice Keegan said: "These are extremely serious alleged offences directed at the most vulnerable members of society."
They deny charges of burglary and four counts of attempted burglary between May 1-4.
Crown lawyer David Russell said the 94-year-old woman living in sheltered housing at Castlerocklands, Carrickfergus answered a knocked on her door to be confronted by a male and female asking for a glass of water.
The pensioner's attempt to close the door were thwarted by a foot being put against it, the court heard.
She went to get the drink, leaving her walking frame and handbag unattended.
When the woman returned the callers had gone and the bag containing £30 cash was missing, according to the prosecution.
Mr Russell claimed the pair had also gone into her home, rummaging through a jewellery box but apparently taking nothing more.
He also set out details of alleged incidents at four nursing homes located in Carrickfergus, Ballymena and Lisburn.
On each occasion a male and female challenged by members of staff claimed they were on the premises looking for work.
Further investigations into four other suspected incidents involving the same alleged modus operandi are continuing.
Opposing bail, the prosecutor contended: "The nature of this offending targeted the most vulnerable members of the community.
"It was clearly planned and professional, this wasn't an ad hoc operation."
Both accused were said to have only moved to Northern Ireland within the past six months.
Defence counsel Mark Farrell confirmed they accepted visiting the nursing homes.
He stressed, however: "They did so attempting to secure some casual employment."
But responding to submissions that the alleged offences involved no weapons or violence, Mrs Justice Keegan asked: "What could be more intimidating than bursting into a 94-year-old lady's home?"
Bail was refused due to the risks of further offences and flight.
Belfast Telegraph Digital