Northern Ireland news

Man who burgled Dungannon home of paralysed woman as she watched jailed for two years

Penyo Koychev (29) was jailed for two years at Dungannon Crown Court for burgling the home of a paralysed woman

A man who burgled the home of a paralysed woman, knowing she was helpless to intervene, has been jailed for two years.

The terrified victim was forced watch to watch in horror while her property in Co Tyrone was rifled through and items stolen.

Penyo Koychev (29), of Boyds Row, Armagh, admitted entering the victim’s Dungannon home and stealing her phone, purse, cash and bank cards.

He appeared for sentencing today at Dungannon Crown Court where Judge Stephen Fowler described the offence as callous and premeditated.

Paralysed from the neck down, with significantly impaired speech and living alone, the victim was in bed at around 8.20pm at November 3 last year. Two nurses had just left after tending to her when she heard noises and a door handle being tried.

Koychev then entered the victim’s room, saw her lying in bed, and proceeded to rummage in drawers and cupboards.

He located her handbag and before leaving took her phone, leaving her incapable of calling for help.

A short time later the nurses returned and discovered the front door lying open and the distraught victim screaming in fear.

Despite her ordeal she provided police with an accurate description of Koychev, who was located the same night in the Market Square area of Dungannon.

The victim’s phone was in his pocket and her purse was found discarded in undergrowth, although the cash and cards were never recovered.

A previous court heard that Koychev had a lengthy criminal record in his native Bulgaria including numerous convictions for theft before his arrival in Northern Ireland in 2016.

Judge Fowler said: "The feeling of helplessness experienced by the victim in having the sanctity of her home violated at night while she was so debilitated must have been terrifying.

"Yet the defendant, with knowledge she was seriously ill, continued to callously steal from one of the most vulnerable members of our community.”

Saying a deterrent sentence was needed, Koychev was sentenced to two years in jail followed by two years on supervised licence and ordered to pay the victim £500 in compensation.

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