A WOMAN who rented a house in Tempo has been convicted of stealing a duvet cover and pillow cover from a home which the landlady said was left in her rented property.
Margaret Spence (65) who now lives on the Hospital Road, Omagh contested a charge of theft at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Monday.
Spence and her husband rented a bungalow on the Glengesh Road, Tempo from Sandra Armstrong after returning to live in Fermanagh from Scotland.
Landlady Sandra Armstrong told the court the bungalow was built by herself and her ex-husband when they got married in 1981. She received the four-bedroom house on the family farm in their divorce settlement and Ms Armstrong subsequently moved to Malta to live.
Before she left, Ms Armstrong gave the property to Watters Estate Agents in Fivemiletown to rent out for her, and in August 2014 the Spences signed a one year lease on the house and garden, which Ms Armstrong said she had left fully furnished with “everything in it” such as bed linen, towels and cutlery.
Ms Armstrong returned from Malta in June 2015. She said the Spences left the house that month without giving her notice. When she visited the her house, which had been her family’s home, she said everything she had left was gone except the large furniture, the garden was full of weeds, and the house was in “a dreadful state.”
Having emailed Mr Spence asking him to return to discuss the matter, which he refused to do, Ms Armstrong contacted the police. Police subsequently searched the Spences’ new home and found the duvet and pillow cover in question on a bed in their guest room.
She told the court she did not have an itinerary of the items she left in the house, but her estate agent Mr Watters had photographed the home before it was put up for rent. The photo of the duvet and pillow case was shown to the court, and the duvet and pillow cover seized in the search of the Spences’ home was also shown to the court.
In her evidence to the court, Spence said she and her husband had run a bed and breakfast in Scotland. She denied taking anything from Ms Armstrong’s house deliberately, and said if she did take the duvet and pillow cover it was by mistake, explaining that, due to her previous business, she had around 15 bed linen sets and that it may have got mixed up with her things.
District Judge Nigel Broderick said he was satisfied the duvet and pillow cover in question was the one photographed in Ms Armstrong’s house before the Spences moved in. He said was also not satisfied with Spence’s evidence, stating he believed she had taken them knowing they didn’t belong to her.
As the she had a clear record, and the items were returned to Ms Armstrong, Judge Broderick gave Spence a 12 month conditional discharge or cleaning costs.
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Posted: 1:55 pm March 2, 2016