Belfast Telegraph

Two in court after pensioner's life savings are stolen in west Belfast

By Alan Erwin

Nearly £6,000 in savings stolen from an 80-year-old woman just after she closed her bank account last month has not been recovered, the High Court has heard.

The pensioner had withdrawn all her money to pay for work at her home and to cover the Christmas period, prosecutors said.

Details emerged as bail was granted to one of two men accused of targeting her in a distraction-style theft at a west Belfast supermarket cafe.

Gerard Devlin (24) - whose father was murdered in 2006 - is charged with stealing £5,739 from the elderly victim.

His co-accused, 21-year-old Nathan Finn, is alleged to have acted along with him.

A judge was told thieves struck after she had been to a Danske Bank branch at the Kennedy Centre on the Falls Road on October 31.

"She withdrew the entire amount in her ISA savings account. The money was to be used by her over the Christmas period," prosecution counsel Fiona O'Kane said. "She was apparently having work done to her house and didn't know exactly how much it was going to cost."

The woman had her cash in a green plastic bag when she then went into a cafe at a nearby Sainsbury's store.

Devlin, of Colinglen Road, Dunmurry, and Finn, who had a hostel address on Belfast's Malone Road, were allegedly captured on CCTV watching the victim before joining the queue behind her.

Devlin can be seen reaching into her handbag and taking out the bag of cash while his co-accused talks to the woman, it was claimed.

Both men then left the cafe within a short period of each other, the court heard.

According to Mrs O'Kane, the pair were arrested on November 19 at the home of Devlin's partner on the Donegall Road.

Asked by Mr Justice Weir if the woman had got her money back, the barrister replied: "No, it's not been recovered."

During the hearing defence counsel set out Devlin's tragic family background.

John O'Connor said his client had witnessed his father Gerard Devlin snr being stabbed to death in a fight outside his west Belfast home in 2006.

He said the accused was now a father-of-two himself seeking release to be with his family.

Granting bail, the judge said he was going to give Devlin a chance.

Tight conditions imposed on him included a night-time curfew and prohibition on taking alcohol or drugs.

Mr Justice Weir also banned him from either contacting the victim or entering the Kennedy Centre.

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