Fined £80 for begging in Portadown

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A 53-year-old man begging outside a building society office in Portadown ‘thought it would be a good place to sit’, Craigavon Magistrates Court heard last Friday.

James Patrick McDonagh, whose address was given as Castle Lane Mews, Lurgan, was charged that on November 23 this year he placed himself in a public place to beg or gather alms.

The court heard that the defendant was sitting outside the Nationwide office in Portadown with a cup in front of him begging for money.

When he saw police approaching the defendant got on his feet.

He said: “I was begging. I’m sorry. I apologise 100 times for begging.”

Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer wanted to know how much was in the cup.

Defence solicitor Pat Vernon said his client had a long standing drink problem and was doing this to fuel his drinking.

He added that McDonagh’s record down the years was all alcohol related.

Mr Vernon said the defendant wasn’t hassling anyone but just sitting there with a cup in front of him.

Judge Mateer said people saw the empty cup and threw money into it.

Mr Vernon said there were about five to six pounds in the cup.

“He was only sitting for an hour outside Nationwide,” he added. “He thought that it was a good place to sit with people coming out with money. He is on universal credit and gets enough to do him but not enough for his alcohol.”

Judge Mateer fined him £80 and ordered him to pay a £15 offender’s levy adding that he “shouldn’t be trespassing on the tender hearted nature of the good people of Portadown.”