A MAN who received a £949 refund for a laptop after claiming he opened the box and contained window filler and sandpaper has been given a three months jail term, suspended for a year, for fraud by false representation.
Thomas Boyle (30), of Mount Alverno, Dermott Hill Park, Belfast, appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena.
A prosecutor said police received a report from Argos in Ballymena on January 22 this year that a man had collected a £949 laptop he had bought online.
The court heard after collecting the item, Boyle returned a short time later saying when he had gone out to his car he found items in the box including "window filler" and "sand paper" but no laptop.
The man told staff he had opened the laptop in the car to put "stickers" on it for his son who was in hospital.
The prosecutor said staff then rang Argos in Cookstown, where the laptop had been delivered from, to confirm that at no point had the laptop been previously returned.
The staff member was told there was no record of return for the item and Boyle was refunded the amount for the laptop. The defendant provided his driver licence after being asked for details.
A defence lawyer said it was an "unusual" offence as the defendant had no history for theft or dishonesty.
He said the defendant had "very acute mental health problems which were exacerbated during lockdown".
The lawyer said Boyle was "genuinely ashamed".
District Judge Nigel Broderick told the defendant: "This is an unusual offence. There is an element of sophistication and premeditation but that is all the more surprising given your lack of criminal record".
The judge said a Probation report said the defendant was not suitable for Probation or Community Service.
As well as handing down a suspended sentence, the judge ordered the defendant to pay £949 restitution.