Man accused of robbing women in their 80s to head straight to trial

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Man charged with robbing women in their 80s goes to trial in November

A Halifax man accused of robbing three women in their 80s and punching one in the face during two home invasions will head straight to trial without a preliminary inquiry.

The Crown has preferred an indictment against Paul Alexander Sponagle. Prosecutor Sean McCarroll said the step was taken, in part, because of the age of the alleged victims and the rigours of the court process.

Sponagle is charged with three counts of robbery, two counts of breaking and entering, assault causing bodily harm, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose, uttering threats, and disguise with intent to commit an indictable offence.

He appeared in Nova Scotia Supreme Court Thursday to discuss the next steps in his case and will return to court in May to set trial dates.

Jeanette MacDonald, 85, said a man forced his way into her west-end Halifax home on Dec. 20, punched her in the face and demanded money. He took off when neighbours responded to her shouts for help.

The next day, Halifax Regional Police said officers responded to a report of a break-in at a seniors' complex near the scene of the first crime. Two friends, both 86, were in the home.

Police said a masked man came into the bedroom and demanded money. One woman handed over money and the man left the apartment.

Police obtained surveillance video and arrested Sponagle a short time later.

Sponagle has a lengthy criminal history and had been released from prison six months before his arrest. He's been in jail since his arrest.