Man who spent £6k of his dead neigh­bour’s money on pizza fac­ing jail term

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY AL­LAN PRE­STON

A BELFAST man who pre­vented the burial of his el­derly neigh­bour’s body for two years and spent £6,000 of her money on pizza has been told to pre­pare for prison.

Robert Sharkey (24) lived in an apart­ment next door to Marie Con­lon (68) in the Lark­spur Rise area of west Belfast when her body was dis­cov­ered in Oc­to­ber 2017.

Ap­pear­ing in court in Belfast yes­ter­day, Judge Piers Grant said Sharkey was guilty of a “wicked, wicked se­ries of of­fences” against “a com­pletely vul­ner­a­ble” woman.

Af­ter hear­ing the facts of the case, Judge Grant said he would take a week to con­sider the highly un­usual case but warned Sharkey a cus­to­dial sen­tence was in­evitable.

The court also heard staff at Domino’s pizza had nick­named the de­fen­dant ‘The Fish Guy’ for his rou­tine daily or­der of a nineinch pep­per­oni and an­chovy pizza be­tween 4pm and 6pm.

Sharkey gave lit­tle re­ac­tion as the de­tails of his crimes were read out.

On Oc­to­ber 6, 2017, Ms Con­lon’s body was found by po­lice “in an ex­treme state of de­com­po­si­tion” af­ter con­cerns for her safety were raised by a fam­ily mem­ber.

Her fam­ily had told of­fi­cers she was “an ex­tremely pri­vate per­son who kept her­self to her- self ” and had made lit­tle at­tempt to have any con­tact with fam­ily mem­bers de­spite their ef­forts to do so.

A group of Ms Con­lon’s fam­ily were in court yes­ter­day, but de­clined to com­ment af­ter­wards.

When po­lice called on Sharkey on the day they found Ms Con­lon’s body, he at first said he ex­pected her to re­turn that evening.

He was later ar­rested and his apart­ment was found filled with empty pizza boxes.

“I was wor­ried about ring­ing the po­lice, but it was also a time when I was strug­gling with money,” he told of­fi­cers af­ter his ar­rest.

“I had no money at all and she had her hand­bag in her bed be­side her and her purse was open and there was money in it (£50) and I took it.

“I left the apart­ment and closed the door and pre­tended noth­ing had hap­pened.”

As well as pizza, Sharkey used her bank cards to pay £1,030 for phone bills, £2,452 at Sains­bury’s and £285 on elec­tric­ity bills.

To avoid get­ting caught, he also took care to pay two rates bills for Ms Con­lon of £573 in Septem­ber 2016 and £586 a year later.

A de­fence bar­ris­ter said Sharkey had co­op­er­ated with po- lice, but Judge Grant said: “He was pretty much con­fronted red-handed.”

The de­fence bar­ris­ter added: “Hav­ing started down this line it was hard to stop”.

Judge Grant com­mented: “There was a sim­ple way to stop. Stop steal­ing.”

Sharkey was re­manded in cus­tody ahead of his sen­tenc­ing which is due to take place next Fri­day.

ALAN LEWIS/ PHOTOPRESS

Robert Sharkey at an ear­lier court sit­ting

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