Man who prevented neighbour’s body being discovered is jailed

Robert Sharkey admitted preventing the lawful burial of a corpse
Robert Sharkey admitted preventing the lawful burial of a corpse

A 24-year old man who prevented the burial of his neighbour whose body lay undiscovered in her west Belfast home for over two years was handed a two-year sentence on Monday.

Robert Sharkey appeared at Belfast Crown Court, sitting in Downpatrick, on charges linked to his neighbour Marie Conlon (68), whose remains were discovered in an extreme state of decomposition in the bedroom of her Larkspur Rise home in October 2017.

Knowing his neighbour was dead and stealing both cash and her bank card, Sharkey - who had lived in the flat above Ms Conlon for around five years - used the card fraudulently online for a period of two years.

As well as paying Ms Conlon’s rates bill in a bid to avoid detection, Sharkey ordered the same nine-inch pepperoni and anchovy pizza and two tins of juice for delivery from Dominos Pizza every day between 4pm and 6pm for two years - earning him the nickname ‘the fish guy’ from staff at the eatery.

Handing Sharkey a two-year sentence, which will be divided into 12 months in custody following by 12 months on licence upon his release, Judge Piers Grant told the 24-year old that his criminal behaviour was both wicked and an outrage to any decent-thinking person, and said: “You had many opportunities to stop what you were doing and disclose her death to the authorities.”