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Armagh sex offender who made off without paying for fuel walks free from court

Richard McCrea alias David Hatch

A high risk Armagh sex offender has added to an already “atrocious” criminal record when he made off from a petrol station without paying for a tank of fuel.

Richard McCrea, who now goes by the name David Hatch, appeared at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday with the £70 restitution in hand for the fuel he stole on on August 7, last year.

Last week, the 43-year-old, from Dobbins Grove in Armagh, claimed his car had broken down on his way to court and that he actually went back to the filling station the next day (August 8, 2022) to pay for the fuel.

However, prosecution said there was no record of the payment being made and Hatch was given a week to prove his story wasn’t fabricated.

Unable to prove he had paid, Hatch – who has more than 50 previous convictions – returned on Wednesday with the money, via his solicitor.

Before passing sentence, District Judge Bernie Kelly queried: “Mr Hatch doesn’t have any previous record, does he?”

To which the prosecution quickly retorted: “He does, it’s quite a significant one.”

A comment backed up by his defence solicitor, Joe McDonald, who added: “It’s quite an atrocious record, but theft, there’s only one previous.

“It’s a very silly offence because there is CCTV all around the garage, it was just a matter of time before he was picked up for it.”

Judge Kelly, in handing down a two year conditional discharge, said: “On this occasion I have to say, given the cost of all matters petroleum at the minute, whether it’s petrol or oil, or whatever it might happen to be, this is a particularly mean offence.”

While the name Hatch is not well-known at court, the defendant himself is no stranger to the criminal justice system given he has more than 50 criminal convictions.

Those include multiple entries for breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) when he was jailed for sexual communication with a child and attempted grooming.

Posing as a 17-year-old Hatch/McCrea, tried to entice a young girl into meeting him and shockingly, after his case was heard, he breached his SOPO literally within minutes.

Walking out of Antrim Crown Court, the 43-year-old walked to a supermarket around the corner and bought himself a new smartphone, placing him in immediate breach of the order designed to protect children and vulnerable members of the public from further offences.

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