GRANNY ATTACK: MAN IN COURT

By MADELEINE DOHERTY

A HOMELESS man has been charged with last week's shocking attack on an 89-year-old Murwillumbah grandmother.

The charges were laid after Vinode Das Reciuga, 30, an itinerant who roams Murwillumbah, was arrested in Kingscliff yesterday.

Police facts tendered in Tweed Heads Court as part of a bail application alleged Reciuga broke into the woman's home in William Street, Murwillumbah, by smashing through a bedroom window.

The woman had locked her house before retiring to bed last Tuesday night only to be woken after midnight to discover a man in her hallway.

Reciuga allegedly went into the woman's bedroom and placed his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming. It is alleged that at one stage he put a pillow over her face to stifle her screams.

A struggle followed, and as the victim fought back she was bruised and cut.

During the struggle, blood from Reciuga's hand ? cut when he smashed the window ? ended up on the victim.

Reciuga fled the house, and in the morning the victim reported the incident to her carer who contacted police. The victim was admitted to Murwillumbah Hospital.

Later that day Reciuga went to the Murwillumbah Police Station to report an alleged assault on himself in Knox Park.

Police became suspicious when Reciuga's injuries matched those the offender would have received in the attack on the grandmother.

Reciuga was interviewed, photographed and a DNA sample taken.

Reciuga gave police the names of five witnesses who he said could account for him at the time of the attack.

When none of the witnesses was able to provide an alibi for Reci-uga and DNA blood samples matched, police move swiftly to arrest him.

Reciuga told police he broke into the house looking for morphine or Valium.

In court yesterday, Reciuga pleaded guilty to self administering and possession of prohibited drugs (cannabis) but did not enter a plea to more serious aggravated break and enter and assault charges.

Reciuga's bail application was refused, with a full psychiatric assessment ordered.

He will appear in court again on April 17.

Tweed/Byron police Superintendent Michael Kenny yesterday praised the efforts of his detec- tives and support police in apprehending Reciuga.

"This was a dreadful incident, but when something unfortunate happens we do keep our eye on the ball," he said.

"They were dedicated to getting a good result as quickly as pos- sible and did just that."



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