Woman admits stealing £6,000 from pensioner to feed heroin addiction

The �6,000 was returned to the pensioner after police arrested Pauline Ferrin in Belfast city centre
The �6,000 was returned to the pensioner after police arrested Pauline Ferrin in Belfast city centre

A heroin addict allegedly snatched a bag containing £6,000 from a pensioner followed through Belfast city centre, a court has heard.

The 73-year-old victim was targeted after she made a cash withdrawal from a bank on Monday.

Pauline Ferrin, 19, has admitted stealing the money for a man who offered her drugs in return, a judge was told.

Ferrin, of Malone Road in the city, was refused bail on a charge of theft.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard the alleged offence was part of escalating behaviour motivated by her addiction.

Describing it as a “nasty theft”, a PSNI officer said: “The victim was followed through Belfast city centre for nearly an hour, from the money being taken from the bank to the bag being snatched.”

The elderly lady was clearly targeted as being vulnerable, the policewoman contended.

Defence counsel Michael Boyd confirmed Ferrin has already made a full admission and co-operated with police.

According to the barrister his client was begging outside a Tesco store when a man she knew informed her about the victim carrying a lot of money.

CCTV footage allegedly shows him “scoping” a nearby Santander bank branch when the cash had been withdrawn earlier, the court was told.

“He said if Pauline carried out a snatch of the bag he would give her what he referred to as an eighth of heroin,” Mr Boyd submitted.

“In those circumstances she yielded to that very considerable offer as far as her drug addiction is concerned.”

The pair were said to have followed the pensioner to the bottom of the Shankill Road, where the theft was carried out.

Police in the area arrested Ferrin close to the scene.

With the money returned to the victim, Mr Boyd added: “Pauline apologised face to face to this lady for what happened.”

Counsel insisted that the man had been the “prime mover” in the theft.

“It had been planned by him and executed at the last minute by Pauline,” Mr Boyd claimed.

But despite Ferrin being due to start a heroin withdrawal programme, District Judge Fiona Bagnall ruled she must be remanded in custody.

She said: “Unfortunately for the long-term plans which were in place, events have overtaken her.”

Ferrin is due to appear in court again by video-link on March 20.