Northern Ireland

Marie Conlon: Robert Sharkey stole from dead neighbour

Robert Sharkey
Image caption Robert Sharkey pictured at an earlier court appearance

A man has admitted preventing the burial of an elderly neighbour whose body lay undiscovered in her west Belfast home for about two years.

Robert Sharkey, 24, of Grays Hill, Bangor, admitted all but one charge levelled against him.

Marie Conlon, 68, was discovered dead in the bedroom of her Larkspur Rise flat last October.

The charges include breaking into her west Belfast home, stealing a bank card and using it to pay bills and buy food.

The bills included spending almost £6,000 in Domino's Pizza.

Sharkey had been Ms Conlon's neighbour. She was last seen alive in January 2015.

Image copyright PACEMAKER
Image caption The body of Marie Conlon was found in a flat at Larkspur Rise, off Suffolk Road, in west Belfast

When her remains were found, he was arrested and charged with preventing the lawful burial of a corpse on dates between August 2015 and October 2017.

When the charge was put to him at Belfast Crown Court on Tuesday, he replied "guilty."

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

Sharkey also admitted six separate counts of fraud by false representation by using Ms Conlon's First Trust bank card without authority.

He used it to buy £5,988.39 of food from Domino's Pizza over a period from October 2015 to 2017, to buy goods worth £3,279.80 from Sainsbury's from July 2016 to October 2017, and to buy mobile phone credit from O2 Ltd at a cost of £1,030 from March 2016 to October 2017.

Sharkey also admitted using the card to pay Power NI £285, as well as to make payments to the Department of Financial Land and Property Service - £573.83 in September 2016 and £586.20 paid the following September.

However, he denied breaking into Ms Conlon's flat between June and October 2015 and stealing a Bank of Ireland debit card.

In court on Tuesday, crown and defence lawyers asked for time to consider the remaining single charge against Sharkey.

Judge Geoffrey Miller QC said he would allow two weeks. Sharkey is due to be sentenced on the 10 charges that he admitted on Friday October 12.

He was released on continuing bail.

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