Elderly woman helped identify finger-biting robber while shielding from coronavirus

Monique Roach, 24, of no fixed address was sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty to one cou

Monique Roach, 24, of no fixed address was sentenced to seven years after pleading guilty to one count of robbery and one count of blackmail. Picture: Metropolitan Police - Credit: Metropolitan Police

An innovative identification process has helped jail a female robber who bit an elderly woman’s hand to steal her wedding ring.

On March 28 at 11.30pm, Monique Roach, 24, of no fixed address, rang the doorbell of a home in Dalston Lane, Hackney.

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A 75-year-old woman answered and Roach, who was crying, asked for ten pounds.

The victim tried to close the door but Roach bit the victim’s hand, took her wedding ring and ran off.

Investigating officer Det Con 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.”

She had left a palm print on the victim’s door and was captured on CCTV.

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Roach was arrested on April 17 at an address in Rendlesham Road and later charged on April 29.

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However, as the investigation occurred during the strictest phase of lockdown, the victim was shielding from the virus and unable to visit the police station for an identification parade.

Instead Det Con Downey and the Met’s offender identification team decided to set up a bespoke identification centre at the victim’s address.

An officer changed into full protective clothing outside the victim’s home, gave her identification material in a socially-distanced way, left and explained what to do through a front window.

“We did not let the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic stop us from effectively investigating this case,” said Det Con Downey.

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This process meant Roach was identified, pleaded guilty, and sentenced to a total of seven years’ imprisonment at Wood Green Crown Court on August 17 - six years for the robbery and one year for a blackmail offence, to run consecutively.

The blackmail took place on April 13 at an address in Spenser Grove. She manipulated a man in his 50s into giving her money at his address by saying she needed cash for her children.

Roach returned and told the victim to give her another £20 or she would call police and say he had hit her.

The man gave Roach a total of £105 in cash and she was arrested and charged with blackmail on June 1 following a conventional identification parade in Hornsey.

She pleaded guilty to the offence at Wood Green Crown Court on July 28.