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Man (24) who stole dead neighbour's bank card and spent £6k on pizzas to be sentenced next month

Robert Sharkey (24) appeared at Belfast Crown Court. Picture by Hugh Russell

A 24-year old man is to be sentenced next month for preventing the burial of an elderly neighbour, whose body lay undiscovered in her west Belfast home for around two years.

Robert Sharkey appeared at Belfast Crown Court yesterday where he admitted all but one charge levelled against him following the discovery of the remains of Marie Conlon.

The charges include breaking into her house and stealing a bank card, then using the stolen card to pay bills and buy food - including spending almost £6,000 in Domino's Pizza.

The remains of the 68-year old were discovered in the bedroom of her Larkspur Rise flat last October, and 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.

When the charge was put to him in court yesterday he replied "guilty."

He also entered guilty pleas to breaking into his neighbour's house and taking batteries, tools and a coffee mug, and also of stealing both £50 in cash from her, and a First Trust debit card.

Sharkey, whose address was given as Gray's Hill in Bangor, also entered guilty pleas to six separate counts of fraud by false representation - namely using Ms Conlon's First Trust bank card without authority.

Robert Sharkey (left) on the way out of court. Picture by Hugh Russell

He admitted using her bank card to buy food totalling £5,988.39 from Domino's Pizza over a period from October 2015 to 2017, buying goods from Sainsburys to the value of £3,279.80 from July 2016 to October 2017, and purchasing mobile phone credit from O2 Ltd amounting to £1,030 from March 2016 to October 2017.

Sharkey also admitted using the card to pay Power NI £285, as well payments Department of Financial Land and Property Service. He made a payment to them of £573.83 in September 2016, with £586.20 paid the following September.

The only charge Sharkey denied was breaking into Ms Conlon's flat between June and October 2015 and stealing a Bank of Ireland debit card.

After pleas were entered to all 11 charges, both the Crown and defence asked for a little time to consider the remaining charge against Sharkey.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said he would allow two weeks, listed the case again on September 24, and said this would be ample time to decide whether or not to prosecute on the burglary charge.

He also set aside Friday October 12 for sentencing Sharkey on the ten charges he admitted.

After ordering both a medical report and a pre-sentence report on Sharkey, he was addressed by the Judge, who told him: "I am releasing you on continuing bail. You should re-appear on the 24th of September, when the court will receive a further update on the outstanding count."

Police and forensic officers at Larkspur Rise in west Belfast. Picture by Mal McCann

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