Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Man who mugged 82 year old woman fails to overturn conviction

A Newry man jailed for mugging an 82 year old woman in the city 3 years ago has failed to overturn his convictions for robbing the pensioner’s handbag and inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Senior judges dismissed 22 year old Larry Torley’s challenge after concluding the prosecution had established a strong circumstantial case against him which led to him being found guilty of the shocking attack which took place on John Mitchel Place in Newry in 2013.

Torley, formerly of Yew Tree Park in Newry, received a five-year sentence in 2015 for carrying out the attack – half of which will be served behind bars.

The elderly victim was mugged as she entered a city centre store in September 2013.   Her handbag, which contained a cheque book, was snatched and she sustained fractures to her shoulder area and severe facial and forehead bruising.

One eye-witness described the assailant as a hooded man, while another who reported seeing a man acting suspiciously in the area picked out Torley during an identification process.

The following day Torley went into a bank in the city and attempted to cash a £325 cheque from the victim’s account which was made out to himself.

He left the bank when the transaction was queried and later pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation for presenting the stolen cheque, but denied carrying out the robbery.

His appeal centred on the trial judge’s treatment of evidence about the attempt to cash the stolen cheque.  In his charge to the jury during the 2015 trial, he had indicated that Torley’s attempt to cash the cheque raised the question of whether that pointed to a propensity to breaking the law for financial gain.

Ruling on the challenge at the Court of Appeal last week, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan identified a danger in the case that jurors may have concluded that because Torley committed the fraud he must have committed the robbery too.

But Sir Declan confirmed that the trial judge had issued a plain warning to jurors that the cheque incident did not mean Torley was more likely to have carried out a violent offence.

“This was a strong prosecution case based on the evidence of identification… the attempt by the appellant to cash the cheque the following day, his lies at interview and the adverse inference the jury were entitled to draw as a result of his failure to give evidence,” Sir Declan concluded.

“We are satisfied that this conviction is safe and accordingly the appeal is dismissed.