Mugging victim laments lost independence

Gary Kean
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Being mugged was a traumatic experience and has ruined Barbara Hurley’s confidence in the safety of Corner Brook’s streets, but it’s the physical pain and the unwelcome dependence on others that hurts the most.

Before the 82-year-old woman was knocked down and robbed by Veronica Ann Park, 37, shortly before midnight on April 22, Hurley did virtually everything for herself.

She would walk downtown to do errands, do her housework and even help her nephew shovel snow outside her house.

The attack, which Park pleaded guilty to and was imprisoned for three years in provincial court Wednesday, left Hurley’s right arm broken. She also suffered lacerations to her knee.

Since the incident, Hurley’s niece has to help her bathe, do her hair and get dressed. She loves to cook and bake, but now limits her diet to mostly bananas, yogurt and baked potatoes — things she can eat readily or prepare easily with her weakened arm.

She has lost between five and seven pounds since the attack.

Hurley rarely leaves her house anymore, except for crucial things such as her appointment to see the orthopedic surgeon treating her mending arm.

She would have gone to court for Park’s sentencing, but said it was too much trouble to get someone else to help her get ready to go there.

“I’m just heartsick over all of this,” Hurley said in an interview the day after Park was sentenced. “Prior to this happening, I was a very independent person. It’s pathetic, the position I’m in right now.”

Hurley was attacked not far from her home. She had just left a bar on Broadway where she had been playing a video lottery terminal.

It was her birthday and she had about $400 — $153 in lotto winnings and some gift money from her family — in her purse.

During Park’s sentencing hearing, the court heard Park had been watching Hurley play the lottery machines and followed her on her short walk home. After knocking Hurley down on nearby Burke’s Road, Park fled with the purse, which was later recovered and returned to Hurley.

Hurley, who did not know Park, said she “was absolutely elated” to hear Park was given three years in prison for the crime.

“She had to know I was much older than her,” said Hurley. “I was carrying a walking stick and I’m old enough to be her grandmother. I’m 4-11 and I weigh 104 pounds.”

Park, who has a 17-page criminal record, apologized to Hurley in court, but Hurley said she can’t accept it.

“This girl knows the court system and I believe she was just working the system to get a lower sentence,” said Hurley. “I don’t think she’s sorry.”

Hurley said it will take a long time to recover from the incident, even when her arm is feeling better. She said she will never again walk the streets on her own after dark.

Hurley said she would have given Park money if she had asked for a loan.

“The money is insignificant,” she said. “What hurts the most is the loss of my independence, which I absolutely loved.”

The Western Star

Geographic location: Veronica Ann Park, Broadway, Western Star

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