Stealing from grandmother ‘about as low as anyone can go’

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
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District Judge Barney McElholm made the comment as 21-year-old Robert Payne appeared at the local Magistrate’s Court.

Payne, whose address was given on court papers as no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to the burglary of his grandmother’s Creggan Heights home on October 19.

Whilst in the property he stole £70 to feed his addiction to so-called legal highs.

A defence solicitor told the court her client went into custody after he was arrested for the offence and has since reconciled with his family. She added he has also taken steps to deal with addiction problems and intends to repay his grandmother as soon as he has the funds.

The solicitor said Payne was remorseful for his actions.

Passing sentence, Judge McElholm said he was impressed by Payne’s efforts since his release from custody. He imposed 100 hours community service and ordered the 21-year-old to spend 12 months on probation.

The judge warned Payne ‘you need to stay off these so-called legal highs. If you come back before the court you face an immediate custodial sentence’.He added if the defendant continued the way he has been ‘you should be alright’.

Judge McElholm also ordered the defendant to pay £70 compensation to his grandmother.