An alcoholic, pre-occupied with getting money for his next drink, who fled with a wallet which had been dropped by a man at a filling station in Coleraine, has been given a four months jail term, suspended for two years.
Philip Lowry (44), of the Simon Community at Lodge Road, Coleraine, stole £60 from the wallet as well as using a debit card to buy drink in two off-licences.
Sentence had been deferred and this week Coleraine Magistrates Court heard the defendant had stayed out of trouble and had been engaging with counselling.
A prosecutor told a previous sitting of the court that police received a report that a man had lost his wallet at Applegreen and CCTV showed, that moments later, another man had picked it up and walked away without making any attempt to find the owner.
The wallet-owner said £60 was taken from the wallet and it emerged the stolen bank card was then used at two off-licences.
CCTV was examined in the off-licences and Lowry was identified.
He had pleaded guilty to the theft of the wallet, cash and debit card as well as two charges of fraud by false representation by using the card on May 13 last year.
Defence barrister Nicola Rountree told the previous court a pre-sentence report made “very sad reading” as it showed the defendant, who had a record, had “suffered the loss of” a number of people who were particularly close to him and there was “unresolved trauma as a result of grief”.
He turned to alcohol and became addicted, she said.
The defence lawyer said the theft was an “opportunistic act” which happened at at time when Lowry was “preoccupied with thoughts of securing funding for his next drink …and that is what he did”.