30/11/2011

MLA Condemns Whiteabbey Pensioner Assault

There has been further condemnation of an assault and robbery on two pensioners in Co Antrim.

The Alliance Mayor of Newtownabbey Cllr Billy Webb has already expressed his disgust at the way the men tied up and robbed an elderly brother and sister in their home on Saturday night in Abbeyville Gardens, Whiteabbey before robbing them of their pension and winter fuel poverty money.

Colin Bell who is 72 and his sister Eileen, who is 81, suffered some minor injuries during the robbery.

The police said that four men entered the house in Abbeyville Gardens in Whiteabbey shortly after 6.20pm on Saturday and then ransacked the couple's house, stealing their pension books and their winter fuel allowances, amounting to about £800.

Both were taken to hospital for their injuries but have since returned home.

Cllr Billy Webb, the Mayor, said: "I am sickened and disgusted that people could do this to two people in the 70s and 80s."

Yesterday, the North Belfast MLA Paula Bradley has also condemned the robbery and assault of the two Newtownabbey pensioners at their home in Abbeyville Gardens.

She said that she was appalled and sickened by the callous nature of the attack, which was perpetrated against elderly siblings Colin and Eileen Bell on Saturday evening.

Ms Bradley was speaking after visiting the Bells at their home along with DUP colleague Cllr Thomas Hogg.

"I want to strongly condemn and deplore this robbery and assault on two of our elderly residents.

"It is hard to comprehend how anyone could carry out such a despicable act. Having spoken with Miss Bell, I am extremely concerned at the distress and anguish that has been inflicted upon her and her brother by these mindless thugs.

"This horrendous incident is another reminder as to why tough action is needed against those who believe they can attack vulnerable older people in their own homes. It is vital that we send out a clear message to these thugs that if they attack an older person they will be going to prison," she said.

"I know from speaking to a number of local residents that the community in Abbeyville are shocked and angry at what has taken place, and that they are rallying around the Bells at this time.

"I would urge everyone to be vigilant and to keep an eye out for their elderly and vulnerable neighbours, especially at this time of year.

"Anyone who thinks they may have information on suspicious activity in the area should pass it to the police immediately. It is important that the perpetrators of this crime are brought to justice before they can carry out similar such acts," the former Newtownabbey Mayor added.

Also, the Alliance Justice Spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA has stated that more support to the police and the courts is needed to gain more convictions, rather than mandatory sentences, to deter attacks on older people.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: "We are all appalled at the disgraceful and cowardly attacks against older and vulnerable people that have taken place in the past few weeks. These offences are particularly repugnant and detestable. As a society we have a responsibility to protect older and vulnerable people."

Just two years ago, two brothers - one blind and the other partially sighted - were also singled out for attack in their Whiteabbey home in a similar robbery.

The culprits even hit the brothers' guide dog during the assault, which left the two brothers bruised and traumatised.

No one has been made amenable for that incident.

(BMcC)

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