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November 8, 2002

Blind, deaf pensioner mugged by teenagers

From: South London Press, UK
Nov. 8, 2002

BERYL Stancombe is no ordinary victim of crime.

By Oscar Mortali, South London Press

The 67-year-old pensioner is completely blind, deaf without her hearing aid and relies heavily on her loyal Labrador guide dog Kiri.

But that did not stop two callous teenage girls snatching nearly £700 in cash from her handbag, just yards from her home on Monday morning.

In another shocking example of how low criminals in south London will sink, they had no qualms about targeting one of the most vulnerable members of our society.

The heartless pair are thought to be just 13 years old.

The despicable crime has left Beryl penniless and too frightened to leave the Clapham home she shares with her blind husband John. She said: "I'm just too nervous when I hear people walking near me."

Defenceless Beryl carried the cash-bundle after picking up her and her husband's combined monthly disability allowance and pension money from a post office near her home. The gutsy pensioner has now turned to the South London Press to highlight the crime.

She said: "I'm sure they were watching me at the post office and followed me. I had two bags and they knew exactly which bag to go for. They even took our pension and disability books."

She added: "I heard two girls' voices close behind me and asked them if they would like to pass. It was a few seconds later I realised my handbag felt light and when I checked the money had gone."

An elderly neighbour gave chase after hearing Beryl swear at the girls, but he was unable to catch up with them. He told police the girls sounded European and looked around 13 or 14 years old. Her husband's discarded pension book was later discovered in a neighbour's garden.

Beryl's son, Richard Stancombe, is also blind. Brought up in south London, he moved to Suffolk six years ago and cannot believe someone would sink low enough to target his vulnerable mother.

He said: "It is not the same place it used to be. There is no sense of community any more. My mother is completely independent despite her disability. She does nearly everything herself. What does it say about the place when it happens to someone like that?"

He added: "Her guide dog is not trained to be aggressive. In fact, it would have probably led her around them."

The incident happened in Gaskarth Road near Clapham South Tube just after 11am on Monday.

Information to Battersea Robbery Squad on 020-8247 8790.

© owned by or licensed to Trinity Mirror Plc 2002