Grieving widow victim of callous thief at Ballina
Betty O’Grady, 72, of Wardell, was robbed in the car park of Ballina Fair last Wednesday.
The robbery came at the end of a year her daughter, Connie D’Anna, described as terrible.
Mrs O’Grady lost her son Bill and husband Tom to cancer at the beginning of the year.
She nursed her husband in the family home at Wardell, while Mrs D’Anna took leave from her job as a school teacher to nurse her brother in her Pimlico home.
The men were diagnosed within a week of each other and died within a week of each other.
“It was very difficult and very exhausting,” Mrs D’Anna said.
She said that the deaths of her brother and father so close together had left her mother devastated.
Over the past eight months the family has rallied to support their mother by taking it in turns to stay with her in the home at Wardell.
Mrs D’Anna said her mother was just beginning to cope when the robbery happened.
“We were just beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mrs D’Anna said.
Mrs O’Grady’s progress suffered a severe setback last Wednesday when after finishing her grocery
shopping she returned to her car in the Ballina Fair car park. It was raining when she got into her car and put her handbag down on the passenger seat.
“I saw the door open and a hand reached in and took my handbag,” Mrs O’Grady said.
She got out of the car to see a young male, of about 16 years of age, getting away with her handbag.
The young male was of Aboriginal appearance. He had a slight build and was about 172cm tall.
He was wearing a red tank top, sky-blue shorts with a white stripe down the side and had curly, short brown hair.
Mrs O’Grady said that she screamed out for help.
“But nobody could hear me above the rain,” she said.
“I was a mess.”
She made her way back to Woolworths, where she collapsed into the arms of another customer.
The police were called and conducted a search for the young male, but he was not found.
Inside Mrs O’Grady’s handbag was a silver chain and cross belonging to her son.
“I kept it in my handbag because I felt like I wanted him with me,” Mrs O’Grady said.
Also stolen were her bank cards, prescription glasses and $380 she had just withdrawn to pay her land rates.
Mrs D’Anna said she contacted The Northern Star because she wanted young people to realise the impact that their actions could have on other people.
“We have had a dreadful year,” she said. “This was the final straw.
“Young people just don’t realise how much what they do affects other people.”
Mrs D’Anna said she hoped her mother’s story would be a warning to other elderly people to be more aware of opportunistic criminals.