Astrophysicist thief had shown a ‘complete lack of backbone’

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.
Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.

A 19-year-old man who admitted fraud and theft at a store he worked in has been given a suspended prison sentence.

Luka McEnery, Annesborough Road, Lurgan, appeared for sentencing on Wednesday at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

He was accused that on November 4 last year while occupying a position in which he was expected to safeguard the financial interests of TK Maxx he dishonestly abused that position in that he made a refund transaction on a Ralph Lauren handbag valued at £129.99.

McEnery was further charged with the theft of a Ralph Lauren handbag on the same date.

He pleaded guilty to both offences at an earlier court and the case was adjourned for a pre-sentence report.

Last week District Judge, Mrs Bernie Kelly, said she had been ‘doing this job for a long time’ and had read many pre-sentence reports and sadly most had a common theme but this was the first report she had read concerning an astrophysicist.

She noted that McEnery had failed to tell his current employers ‘he is a thief’ and that he stole from his former employers.

“I don’t like that,” she added. “It’s showing me a complete lack of backbone.”

Defence barrister David McKeown said there was no rational explanation for what his client did but there was peer pressure.

Judge Kelly replied that she did not believe for one second that ‘he was that thick that he does what some other idiot tells him what to do.’

Mr McKeown said that after this McEnery had reacted properly and made admissions for his actions which had brought shame on his entire family.

“He didn’t think of the consequences and this was completely out of character,” he added.

Judge Kelly said breach of trust was a serious offence because an employer had to trust someone to carry out a job and the defendant had demonstrated he could not be trusted.

She told McEnery he was bright and intelligent with endless possibilities ahead of him but he had ruined that glittering career.

The judge added that she would take into account he had pleaded guilty and he had no previous record.

She gave him a three month custodial sentence which she suspended for 18 months.