A drug addict “parasite” who murdered a pensioner as she desperately clung on to a handbag containing her husband’s ashes has been jailed for a minimum of 28 years.
Nellie Geraghty, 79, was found face down in the mud just 100 metres from her home in Shaw, near Oldham, Greater Manchester, after she died in a “most violent attack” on her way to her local luncheon club.
The recorder of Manchester, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, told Mark Royle he had “snuffed out her life just to get the price of your next fix or two”.
Her husband, Frank, had died some years ago and she was so devoted to him she had taken to carrying some of his ashes in her bag whenever she went out, a jury at Manchester crown court heard. She also tended to carry amounts of cash up to £200 in her bag at any given time.
Royle, 37, of no fixed address, pounced as she walked along a passageway shortly before midday on 24 November last year.
Sentencing him to life, Judge Gilbart said: “She made a ready victim of a bag snatch. She was just 4ft 10in tall and 79 years old.
“She was carrying her shoulder bag. I am sure you thought it contained money or other things worth stealing. As you tried to get it she clung to it, which is not surprising for she carried within it among other things, the ashes of her late husband whose memory sill burned vividly for her.”
Giving evidence, Royle said he was not the mugger in question, and denied murder or robbery, but the jury rejected his argument.