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 shortly before midnight on April 22, Hurley did virtually everything for herself.
She would walk downtown to run errands, do her housework and even help her nephew shovel snow outside her house.
The attack, for 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 like her appointment to see the orthopedic surgeon dealing with her mending arm.
She would have went 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 around $400 — $153 in lotto winnings and some gift money from her family — in her purse.
During her sentencing hearing, the court heard Park had been watching Hurley playing 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 and its contents, which were later recovered and returned to Hurley.
Hurley, who did not know Park before the attack, said she “was absolutely elated” to hear Park was given three years in prison for the unprovoked 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 she would have given Park money if she had asked for a loan.
It will take Hurley a long time to recover from this incident, even when her arm is feeling better. She said she will never again walk the streets of Corner Brook on her own after dark.
“The money is insignificant,” she said. “What hurts the most is the loss of my independence, which I absolutely loved.”