A 71-year old man who preyed on and robbed elderly women for money which he then sent to an online female friend from Columbia was handed a seven-year sentence.
Belfast Crown Court heard on Friday that the eldest victim in Robert Rodney Stanley Archer’s crime spree was 92, and that some of those he robbed sustained injuries either by being pushed by him, putting up a fight or trying to chase after him.
The court also heard the father-of-seven began offending to raise money after embarking on the romantic online relationship.
Archer, from Upper Newtownards Road in Dundonald, admitted robbing six women, trying to rob a seventh, and stealing money from a further three pensioners.
Sentencing Archer, Judge Patrica Smyth told him: “I cannot find the words to describe your criminality.
“All of the victims were very elderly ladies, targeted specifically because of their vulnerability. You preyed on them. You watched them as they collected their pension, or withdrew money from a cash machine, or simply walked along the street.”
Archer’s offending began in April last year and came to an end following a botched robbery in east Belfast in February.
On April 15, 2016, a 73-year old had just collected her pension from the Post Office and was walking on the Comber Greenway with the aid of a zimmer frame when she was targeted by Archer. She was pushed to the ground, and had her handbag taken, which contained £120.
The details of a number of other robberies were described to the court.
The prosecutor said Archer was arrested on February 2 on the Belmont Road.
When he was interviewed, Archer initially denied the offences, but later admitted to 10 charges. He told police he had formed a relationship with a woman in Columbia and that he had transferred large sums of money to her.
Defence barrister Ian Turkington said his elderly client had accepted responsibility. Mr Turkington said that despite having seven children, Archer spent every day on his own, and it was against this backdrop that he became involving online with the Colombian woman. This in turn let to “desperate attempts to get money”, and Archer “clearly was deliberately targeting these ladies because they were easy prey ... for money”.
Archer’s barrister told the court the pensioner was “someone who is vulnerable himself” as he “fell victim to a scam” which led to this “totally irrational behaviour”.
The pensioner, who has asthma and diabetes, will spend half his sentence in prison, with the remainder spend on licence.