‘Sneak thief’ gets suspended jail term

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

A ‘sneak thief’ who stole money raised for local boxing clubs has had a six month jail term suspended for three years.

Stephen Holmes, whose address was given on court papers as Greeves Park, Strabane, pleaded guilty to burglary and concerting criminal property on November 8, last year.

Derry Magistrates Court heard the 20-year-old stole £2,800 from Rochesters Bar. He let himself into the bar through an unlocked door and then lifted a shutter to gain access to the till.

He then rifled through the contents of the till, some of which was takings but the majority was fundraising from a boxing match which was to be distributed to boxing clubs in the Waterside.

The 20-year-old was identified on CCTV from the city centre buying clothing and shoes at different shops. He spent almost £450 in just over an hour.

Holmes was arrested the following day in the Strathfoyle area. During police interview he denied committing the burglary and claimed he had been in the city centre gambling.

Defence counsel Steven Mooney told the court Holmes had spent over three months on remand and was only released on bail in February this year.

He said since then the 20-year-old had been on stringent bail conditions and had remained offence free.

The barrister added that Holmes has also been ‘taking positive steps to address his addiction problems’.

Suspending the six month jail term, District Judge Barney McElholm said ‘this was a low and nasty crime committed by a sneak thief’.

He said if all the money had been the bar’s takings it could have caused severe problems for them and ‘in this day and age cause them to close the doors’.

The judge said the money was going to boxing clubs who are ‘in no doubt in need of funds’ and do a lot of work ‘keeping young people out of trouble, instilling in them a sense of self discipline and giving them something to do in their spare time’.

He ordered Holmes to pay £2,000 restitution to Rochesters Bar to be divided between them and the boxing clubs.

The judge warned the 20-year-old if he did not pay this money he would spend up to 45 days in prison.