What will it take? Sister of elderly mugging victim joins call for more police resources

SHE’S not your average anti-crime campaigner but Agnes Riley has again spoken out in the hope it will bring about change for vulnerable victims of violent attacks.

She was bedside for weeks after her sister Ursula Bakker was seriously injured in an alleged mugging that went horribly wrong in a Tamworth car park late last year. Mrs Riley said she could retreat and remain silent but she feels compelled to speak out.

“The situation is getting worse, not better,” Mrs Riley told The Leader after a weekend marred with violence against the elderly.

“It’s a scary situation even living in your home.”

Her comments come as pressure builds on the state government to provide the city’s police force with desperately needed drug-fighting resources.

Inundated with stories about more locals living in fear, Mrs Riley said it was not good enough that helpless and vulnerable community members were being caught in the thick of the latest wave of violent crimes. 

“Since Ursula’s encounter, when I’m in the street people are saying ‘well, what can we do? We’re all frightened now’ – and that’s the situation we are in in this beautiful city,” she said.

Mrs Bakker, 79, suffered bleeding on the brain, a broken shoulder, broken eye socket and other injuries when she fell after a struggle with her alleged handbag snatcher.

The situation is getting worse, not better - Agnes Riley

Mrs Riley said she had no choice but to speak out after the alleged attacks against two elderly men on Sunday and a 90-year-old woman, who was brutally bashed in her Winston Pl home the night before.

“It takes its toll and I don’t believe anyone ever recovers totally from something like it,” she said. 

“Ursula is still recovering and has a long way to go. It certainly has taken its toll.”

A 21-year-old man remains on Supreme Court bail, charged over the alleged attack on Mrs Bakker in December last year, while a 20-year-old man was refused bail, charged with assaulting one elderly man and breaking into a home and threatening another man on Sunday.

Yesterday, police were still processing information on the attack on the 90-year-old Winston Pl victim and have renewed their appeal for details on the identity of those behind the violent encounter.

“These teenagers don’t have to pick up a door part or a piece of wood and attack them,” Mrs Riley said. “(The elderly) are no threat anyway. Why have they got to maim and wound them?”

And she’s firing the shots squarely at those responsible for change – the government, the police hierarchy and the justice system.

In an ideal world Mrs Riley said there would be no second chances with harsher penalties for repeat offenders and more resources to tackle the crime plaguing the community.

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