A 35-year-old woman has been jailed for seven years for her part in a burglary where a 76-year-old man ended up being locked into a room for 14 hours after thieves made off with cash and some of his personal belongings.
Angelique Arundel of no fixed abode but originally from Shannon Lawn in Mayfield, Cork, denied a charge of burglary at St John's, Bulls Lane, Blackrock Road, Cork, on May 1st, 2020, when she was arraigned at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on Wednesday.
But on Thursday a jury of 11 women and one man took just 41 minutes to unanimously find Arundel guilty .
Insp Mary Skehan told the court how the 76-year-old man who lived alone was in bed when heard a knock at his front door at about 11pm, and when he got up to answer the door he found a woman who said she was looking for a dog.
The injured party told her he had not seen any dog, and returned to his bedroom only to hear a loud bang when a window was smashed. Almost immediately Arundel accompanied by a man wearing a hood came into the room and demanded money from him, but he refused to co-operate.
Arundel and her accomplice took the pensioner’s mobile phone and trashed the room looking for cash before leaving with the man’s bank card, his Seiko watch worth €200, a cash box and €15.
The pensioner was locked in his room by Arundel's accomplice, Thomas Twohig (40), and he remained there for 14 hours until he was discovered around 2pm the following day by his sister when she called to check on him and immediately alerted gardaí.
Insp Skehan said gardaí later identified Arundel and Twohig as suspects for the burglary, and when they searched Arundel’s family home they found the pensioner’s bank card as well as documentation with the pensioner’s name. Both suspects were arrested and questioned.
Arundel initially was not co-operative when first interviewed about the break-in, but in a later interview she admitted her part in the burglary and expressed remorse and regret for her part in it.
Insp Skehan said Arundel had a total of 55 previous convictions, including five for theft and one for aggravated burglary for which she had received a five-year custodial sentence in 2016. She also had a conviction for intimidating a witness.
Prosecution barrister Donal O’Sullivan said the DPP believed the burglary was at the higher end of the scale in that it was not some opportunistic crime but involved a deliberate targeting of a vulnerable elderly man living alone. It merited a sentence between nine and 14 years.
Pleading for leniency, defence barrister Des Hayes said t his client had come from a very dysfunctional family background where her parents had been absent from parenting duties. She ended up looking after her younger siblings, while she was also homeless and a heroin addict.
He said that Arundel was deeply remorseful for her part in the burglary, and he read from a letter which she had written to the court in which she stated “I am truly sorry for the suffering and loss I caused the victim – there is no excuse for what I did”.
Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin said it was a very serious offence and rejected suggestions it was an opportunistic crime as Arundel and her co-accused had very clearly targeted an elderly vulnerable man and she had used a ploy about a dog to distract him so she and her accomplice could gain entry.
“She confronted and abused an elderly and vulnerable man, and showed no mercy or compassion to him,” said Judge Ó Donnabháin, adding that while she may not have been involved in locking the man into the room she was “an active participant in the burglary part of it”.
He said that he believed the appropriate sentence was one of nine years, and while he was doubtful that she had any great insight into the damage she had caused and questioned her capacity for rehabilitation, he would nonetheless suspend the final two years to encourage her to rehabilitate.
In February, Judge Ó Donnabháin sentenced Arundel’s co-accused, Thomas Twohig of St Colmcille Road in Gurranebraher, to nine years in jail after he pleaded guilty to burglary, false imprisonment and assault causing harm to the elderly man.