Ballymena Court: Henry Hoover among items taken when man’s house was burgled whilst ‘self-isolating’ away from property during pandemic

HOUSEHOLD items including a Henry Hoover were stolen from a man’s house at a time when he was “self-isolating” away from the property for a month during the pandemic, Ballymena Magistrates Court heard.

A neighbour – Stephen Witherspoon – was in court for sentencing for receiving the stolen goods – a diffuser, a Google Chrome, a Henry Hoover, driving licence, passport and furniture.

That offence related to May 26 this year.

The previous day he stole food worth £73 from a Spar shop.

He also admitted possessing a “small quantity” of cannabis on July 15 this year.

A prosecutor said it was reported to police on May 25 that a door had been forced at a property at Ballycraigy Ring in Larne and damage caused and items taken.

The occupant of the address had been “self-isolating” elsewhere for a month prior and had been unaware the property had been broken into.

Later that day police were investigating theft from a Spar shop and it was heard that Witherspoon had been apprehended by staff a short distance away.

When police went to his home they noted the items which had been reported as stolen from the nearby property.

Defence barrister Neil Moore said to add to the “highly unusual” aspects of the case “the person who phoned police to report the burglary was the defendant because the premises had been burgled and he was aware of it.

“He tells Probation, and this is the unusual twist in the entire scenario, that there were individuals who were staying with him who were heavy drug users and he was aware, that whilst the premises had been damaged and entered by others, that the people who had been staying with him had gone in and had taken some of these items”.

The lawyer said items were then left in Witherspoon’s premises and he accepted he had “possession” of them.

The defendant, of Ballycraigy Ring in Larne, was put on Probation for a year.

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