Suspended sentence for violent robbery

A Derry mother of two who viciously attacked a woman in Milford in 2008 was given a six months suspended sentence at Letterkenny District Court this week.

A Derry mother of two who viciously attacked a woman in Milford in 2008 was given a six months suspended sentence at Letterkenny District Court this week.

Nicole McLaren of 18 Ailingham Close, Ballymagoarty, Derry, was charged with robbery at Main Street, Milford on June 15th, 2008.

A previous court sitting heard evidence that McLaren, then a teenager, only knew victim Sandra Kerr to see before she attacked her, stealing her handbag, mobile phone, cash and her passport.

Handing down the sentence Judge Paul Kelly said it was a “very upsetting case” for the victim.

“It is a very unpleasant set of facts and the injured party suffered genuinely for it,” he added.

In the previous hearing Ms Kerr fought back tears as she told of the attack.

29-year-old Sarah Kerr, said that she was set upon violently by 17-year-old McLaren on Main Street, Milford where she was hit, kicked and on the ground screaming for help.

She was held against the window of a pub and thought her head was going to go through it.

Soon afterwards a person she knew intervened. Ms Kerr added that but for that, she believed she would have been killed.

McLaren, now 21, was arrested by gardai by arrangement at the border in Bridgend after she was arrested on a European warrant by the PSNI.

She admitted robbing Ms Kerr of her handbag, mobile phone, Irish passport and 20 euro cash.

The court heard that since then she had a string of convictions in Northern Ireland, including for possession of offensive weapons and assault and had served a six-month jail term.

The court was told she carried out the attack after drinking 12 bottles of Carlsberg.

Defence solicitor Patsy Gallagher said McLaren, now cared for her baby in a Derry shelter, was sorry for her “stupid, horrendous and unbelievable thuggery”.

She came from a deprived background, had “a wake-up call” with her recent jail sentence, and was in counselling for her addiction.

At last Monday’s court sitting in Letterkenny, Mr. Gallagher said the defendant still owed the victim €140 which she was paying back at €10 per week.

Judge Kelly said he read a detailed report prepared by the PSNI outlining that McLaren was living in “supported housing” in Derry but was now free to leave. He said that given her circumstances, “a fine isn’t really an option” and sentenced her to six month sin prison and suspended the term.