Community rally round to offer 94-year-old support after burglary

Nikki Pegrum of the Friends of Hardie Park hands over £176.81 raised by the community in donations to the victim's grandson Russell Coughlan

THE LOCAL community have rallied around to support a 94-year-old who was the victim of an aggravated burglary last week.

Two men broke into an address in Thames Haven Road, Corringham, at around 4.30am on Wednesday, 12 July, waking up the woman and assaulting her. The men stole wedding rings, a necklace and bank cards before threatening to harm the victim.
The victim’s bank card was later used at Lloyds bank in Corringham and a three-figure sum of cash was taken.

The burglary has caused shock within the local community, prompting the Friends of Hardie Park in Stanford-le-Hope to start a collection for the victim. Other members of the community have stepped up to offer her free haircuts, fittings of alarms and afternoon tea.

Rebecca Coughlan is the granddaughter-in-law of the victim, and lives in Stanford-le-Hope. She said: “Thank you to each and every person that has offered well wishes, kind words and shown such generosity. From her family I can say we are overwhelmed by the support and we thank you all.”

Rob Jobson is the victim’s gardener, and as well as offering to cut her lawn for free from now on and sourcing her new hanging baskets, he has helped to organise the donations.

He said: “We’ve been fundraising and had so many offers from people. It’s just been overwhelming, the family are so delighted.

“At 94, she really is a warrior and a fighter. She’s still getting flashbacks but is gradually getting better now, and can’t believe all of the offers that have come in for her. She says to me ‘what is this, I’m not royalty, there’s worse off than me.

“But that’s the older generation for you. She says she doesn’t know what the fuss is about, but she’s been through a lot in the past week.”

A man was arrested for the burglary on Friday, following a car chase with police around Brentwood at around 6.45pm.

Lewis Onwuchekwa, 25, of Newton Road, Tilbury, appeared at Basildon Magistrates Court on Monday charged with the burglary, along with a string of other offences following the pursuit.

He is charged with robbery, dangerous driving, possession of a noxious substance with intent to resist arrest, assaulting a police officer and escaping lawful custody. Onwuchekwa, who appeared at Basildon Magistrates Court on Monday in a blue checked Hollister shirt, denied all charges.

There was no application for bail from Onwuchekwa, and he will be held in custody until a pre-trial hearing at Basildon Crown Court on Monday, 14 August.

Officers had engaged in the pursuit with the black Peugeot 2008 in Thorndon Avenue.

The pursuit continued before the vehicle came to a stop in a side road off Childerditch Lane at around 7.05pm. The people inside the vehicle de-camped and made off. Officers recovered CS gas from the vehicle.

Police are looking for another man believed to have been inside the car, and are also appealing for any information about the second man involved in the burglary.

The man in the car was described as white, in his early-to-mid 20s, with black hair which is curly on top and wearing a white t-shirt with no logo on it.

There is no description of the second man involved in the burglary at this time, but police are looking for anyone who was in the Thames Haven Road or near the Lloyds in Corringham around the time of the burglary on 12 July, or who has any other information about the incident, to contact them.

Anyone with any information about either incident is asked to contact Essex Police on 101 quoting incident 1000 of 14/07 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.