A Moy man who used old receipts to return strimmers he had lifted from shelves has been handed a four month sentence, suspended for two years.
Martin Gerald Millar, of Hillside Crescent, carried out the fraud at a number of Lidl stores before his refund request was eventually declined.
The 51-year-old appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court for sentencing on Friday. He was charged with four counts of theft, two counts of fraud by false representation and two counts of attempted fraud by false representation.
The court heard that on April 13 this year, police received a report from a security officer at a Lidl store regarding the theft of a petrol strimmer.
The officer had checked CCTV, which showed a male enter High Street Mall in Portadown empty handed. The male then lifted an item from an aisle, before presenting a receipt at the checkout and requesting a refund.
The receipt was accepted and the male left the store with a full refund of £119.99. He then drove away in a white Audi, with police checks later determining that the owner was the defendant.
Three other Lidl stores in the locality reported similarly that day.
A short time later, the defendant was reported to have entered Lidl in Dungannon and again conducting the same activity, lifting a petrol strimmer valued at £119.99.
The defendant was also observed by CCTV at Lidl in Armagh. He entered the store empty handed, picked up the same item again and asked for a refund from till staff.
At that stage, the refund was denied. He was later arrested on April 24 and made full admissions of the offences at interview.
Prosecution added that an application for compensation was being sought at a total of £359.97, with the defence explaining that the defendant had brought the money to court with him.
Conor Lunny BL, defending, conceded: “The very obvious aggravating features of this are the pre-meditation and the amount of times he went back on the same day.”
He explained that his client had made a full admission to the offences at interview and had entered a guilty plea at an early opportunity, adding that the defendant had a “level of shame and regret that he got himself involved in this”.
He continued that the defendant had admitted to him that the crime was “born and driven through complete greed and financial gain”.
District Judge Bernie Kelly retorted: “Not everybody resorts to criminality when faced with dire circumstances.”
Mr Lunny, however, said that “there was a complete lack of any consequential thinking on his behalf” and that “he would have known in this day and age he was almost doomed to failure”.
He further noted that, while the defendant’s record “does him no favours”, it has been 12 years since his last offence and he has no other matters pending.
District Judge Kelly, on imposing sentence, commented: “There is absolutely no question that these were serious offences. You planned them, you executed them, they were deliberate and they were deliberate solely for the purpose of you gaining out of them.”
She imposed a sentence of four months in custody for each charge, with the sentence suspended for a period of two years, alongside a compensation order for £359.97.