Stole from nursery 
because he was hungry

A 23-year-old man who stole from a children’s nursery was given probation and community service at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

Stephen Andrew Shortland, Dickson Park, Seapatrick, Banbridge, was accused of five charges of burglary at the Smart Kids Nursery at Mill Street in Gilford.

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.

He admitted that on May 4 last year he entered the premises as a trespasser and stole a first aid kit, a yellow extension lead, black bags, probe wipes, white refuse bags, cleaning clothes, two hammers, a Jack Frost DVD, a Matilda DVD and a Mario Kart game.

The following day, May 5, he stole items including a karaoke machine, a steam cleaner, an electronic book reader and an electronic book.

Shortland also pleaded guilty to three burglaries which took place on May 7.

On the first occasion he stole chicken goujons, strawberries, a food probe and two cans of drink.

During the second burglary he took a loaf of bread, a small tool kit and a fidget spinner.

On the third occasion he stole a large tool kit, a shopping bag and a tube of toothpaste.

The court heard that on May 9 the owner of the nursery reported a burglary to police and CCTV identified the defendant entering the premises three times on May 7 through an insecure exit.

On May 25 the owner again contacted the police and CCTV showed Shortland entering the premises on earlier dates and taking items. The vast majority of the items were recovered.

When interviewed he admitted entering the premises and taking items but disputed what was taken.

He claimed he acted out of desperation because he had not eaten for two days after he lost his job.

Mr Joe McDonald, representing the defendant, said his client had been living above the nursery at the time. He had a drug addiction at that stage and was estranged from his family.

He added Shortland was now on medication and had re-connected with his family and was doing very well.

Mr McDonald said that the defendant had gathered up £50 towards compensation. He had a clear record.

Deputy District Judge Sean O’Hare said that the defendant said he was hungry and decided to steal food but he decided to go further and steal items to make money.

He imposed a combination order of 12 months probation and 100 hours community service and ordered him to pay £100 in compensation.