A female robber who bit an elderly woman’s hand to steal her wedding ring at the height of lockdown has been jailed as the result of an innovative identification process created by detectives.
Monique Roach, 24 of no fixed address, was sentenced to a total of seven years’ imprisonment on Monday, 17 August at Wood Green Crown Court.
She pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to one count of robbery and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. She additionally pleaded guilty to one count of blackmail and was sentenced to a further year’s imprisonment, to run consecutively.
On Saturday, 28 March at 11.30am the victim, a 75-year-old woman, was at her home in Dalston Lane, Hackney. when the suspect rang the doorbell. The victim answered the door and Roach, who was crying, asked her for ten pounds.
The victim tried to close the door but Roach blocked it. She then bit the victim’s left hand, took her wedding ring and ran off. The victim immediately contacted her daughter who called the police.
Roach left a palm print on the victim’s door which was recovered by forensic officers. She was also captured on CCTV in the vicinity.
She was arrested on 17 April at an address in Rendlesham Road, E5 and charged on 29 April. However, in order to strengthen the evidence against Roach and ensure she would be convicted at court, detectives needed the victim to identify her.
Given the fact that at this time London was in the middle of the strictest phase of Coronavirus lockdown, and the age of the victim meant she was clinically vulnerable, detectives were unable to bring her to a police station to carry out an identification parade in the traditional way.
The investigating officer was determined to ensure the case was not delayed until lockdown lifted – which would have potentially enabled Roach to go on and offend further. With the Met’s offender identification team, he devised a strategy to protect the welfare of the victim and identify Roach at the same time by setting up a bespoke identification centre at the victim’s address.
An identification officer attended the home address of the victim in full protective clothing. He changed into this outside the victim’s address to ensure he was fully sanitised. He entered the address, ensuring he remained significantly distanced from the victim and laid out the identification material inside.
He left the address and explained the process to the victim through a front window of the address. Through this process, the victim successfully identified Roach.
Investigating Officer Detective Constable Jack Downey, Central East Basic Command Unit, said:“This was a callous and heartless robbery whereby Roach targeted a vulnerable lady in her own home. The violence she used left the victim terrified and fearing for her safety, at a time of significant uncertainty as we all navigated our way through Coronavirus restrictions and risks.
“We did not let the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic stop us from effectively investigating this case. I am grateful to colleagues across the Met who made the identification of this suspect possible and also want to praise the bravery of the victim who – at a time where she felt incredibly vulnerable due to the risks posed by Coronavirus – allowed us to support her through this process.
“I am pleased that Roach has been brought to justice for this brazen crime.”
Roach was also sentenced for a blackmail offence which occurred on Monday, 13 April at an address in Spenser Grove, Hackney. A few days earlier she had manipulated a vulnerable victim, a man in his 50s, into giving her money after approaching him at his address and informing him that she needed cash for her children.
She returned to his address and made her way inside. Once inside she told the victim to give her a further £20 or she would call the police, saying that he had hit her. She left with the cash and the victim reported the incident to police.
She tricked him into giving her a total of £105 in cash. She was arrested and charged on Monday, 1 June with blackmail, following a conventional identification parade in Hornsey. She pleaded guilty to the offence at Wood Green Crown Court on Tuesday, 28 July.