'Nasty' offence after customer set down mobile phone at a shop in Ballymena

'Nasty' offence after customer set down mobile phone at a shop in Ballymena

A JUDGE has hit out at a "nasty" offence after a Ballymena man stole a mobile phone which had been set down in The Range store in the town.

William Alan Caulfield (44), of Waring Street, admitted stealing an '£800' mobile phone which had bank cards in its cover on July 9 last year.

He also admitted 'fraud by false repsresentation' by using a bank card to make contactless purchases totalling £130 at Lynas' Food; Winemark and the Phoenix garage in Ballymena.

He was identified by CCTV getting into a car which was registered to him.

The court heard the phone had not been recovered and the defendant, who had a previous record, told the court he had  "mislaid" it.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said: "It's quite a nasty thing to do when somebody puts their phone down accidentally, to pick it up, take their bank cards and go around spending the money on contactless and then driving off.

"Quite frankly, I don't believe you when you say you have 'mislaid' the phone. I think you have either still got it or you have sold it on for money. The difficulty is that nobody can trust what you say because you are a dishonest man".

Caulfield was given a five months prison term, suspended for three years.

He was also ordered to pay compensation of £129.

The judge also ordered him to pay £250 towards the cost of the phone.

He said he would not order the full cost of the phone as the defendant was on "limited means" and having to raise such an amount could lead him to re-offending.

Judge Broderick told Caulfield: "You must understand that if in the next three years you commit any offence which carries imprisonment, then this sentence of five months will be activated and made on top of any new offence. Be under no illusions whatsoever when you walk out that door don't have a smile on your face because I will activate that sentence if you breach it".