Shame of man who committed a ‘very mean’ theft offence

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A Coleraine man swiped a charity box belonging to the Autistic Children’s Society whilst waiting for food at a chip shop in the town.

Michael William John McDonald (59), of St Patrick’s Avenue, pushed the charity box down his trousers but when challenged by staff handed it back.

The incident happened at Chequers on July 21 this year, Coleraine Magistrates Court heard.

The court also heard the defendant drove off from the scene and police discovered he had excess alcohol in his breath.

In court he admitted drink driving and the attempted theft of the charity box, which contained an unknown amount of money.

A prosecutor said when confronted McDonald retrieved the charity box from his jeans and said “sorry”.

Police later found he had an alcohol/breath reading of 89 with the legal limit being 35. He told the PSNI he was an alcoholic and admitted trying to steal the charity box as he needed money because “Jobseekers is not a lot to live on”.

Defence solicitor Denise Gillan said the defendant accepts the charity box incident was a “a very mean offence” and he is “absolutely mortified”.

District Judge Liam McNally said McDonald had tried to pocket charity money for himself and he imposed a three months jail term, suspended for two years.

For the drink driving offence the defendant was banned for 16 months and fined £250. McDonald was fined a further £100 for breaching a conditional discharge which was imposed at a previous court.