Man in court over alleged theft from woman who lay dead for two years

06/11/2017': Robert Sharkey at court
06/11/2017': Robert Sharkey at court

A man facing a charge of preventing the burial of his neighbour, and of stealing her bankcards and cash, had his case returned to Belfast Crown Court today.

Robert Sharkey (24) has been charged with 11 offences arising from the discovery of the remains of west Belfast pensioner Marie Conlon.

The 68-year old was discovered deceased in the bedroom of her Larkspur Rise flat last October. She had laid undiscovered for a period of around two years.

Sharkey, who at the time of the discovery was a neighbour of Ms Conlon, was arrested and subsequently charged with preventing the lawful burial of a corpse on dates between August 2015 and October 2017.

He was also charged with two counts of burglary - namely breaking into Ms Conlon’s property and stealing her Bank of Ireland debit card, and stealing batteries tools and a coffee mug on a separate occasion.

Formerly from west Belfast but now living at a bail address in North Down approved by police, Sharkey also faces two theft charges - stealing Ms Conlon’s First Trust bank debit card, and £50 cash.

In addition, Sharkey faces six seperate offences of fraud by false representation, which are linked to the alleged usage of the stolen bank cards.

One of the fraud charges alleges that Sharkey used one of the stolen cards to “purchase pizzas and other foodstuffs” amounting to £5,988.39 from Domino’s Pizzas, on dates between October 2015 and October 2017.

He appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court today for a preliminary enquiry. Represented by Matt Higgins of HHD Solicitors, Sharkey nodded his head to confirm he understood the nature of the charges again him.

The accused shook his head again when he was asked if he “wished to say anything in answer to the charges.”

A prosecutor told District Judge Greg McCourt that she believed there was a case to answer, which he accepted.

Mr McCourt then told Sharkey his case was being returned to Belfast Crown Court for arraignment, on a date to be fixed, before granting him continuing police bail.