Judge commends efforts of drug user who stole alcohol

Enniskillen Court House, RMGFH04

Enniskillen Court House, RMGFH04

A LISNASKEA man stole drink to sell on to fund his drug habit, a local court has heard. 

Matthew Slate (40) of Carrowshee Park, Lisnaskea was at Enniskillen Magistrates Court on Wednesday for sentencing on three separate charges of theft, which he had previously pleaded guilty to. 
The first charge dated to January 15, when Slate was seen by staff taking three bottles of Jack Daniels, valued at £80, from Courtney’s Filling Station, Lisnaskea. In his police interview Slate denied the charges, and also denied that he was the person shown on the store’s CCTV recording. 
On March 28 was observed taking two bottles of Vodka from Eurospar in Lisnaskea, valued at just under £28. He had entered the store just after 4pm, and was recognised by staff as being barred from the shop. 
Slate was asked to leave and he complied, and he was later seen on CCTV removing the bottles from the shelf, making no attempt to pay.
Again, when he was interviewed, Slate denied taking the bottles, and denied being in the shop at the time. 
Then, at approximately 6.40am on May 25, at around 5.55pm, Slate took a wallet and money from a cash box from an unlocked vehicle that had been parked on Lisnaskea Main Street. Police identified the thief as Slate using CCTV footage from a shop on the Main Street, and he was arrested on June 15. 
On this occasion, in his police interview, Slate made full admissions. He apologised, said what he’d done had been stupid, and explained it had been daughter’s birthday. 
Defence solicitor Tommy Owens explained Slate, who has been living in Lisnaskea for around three years, had serious issues with drug addiction, but had been able to detox himself in recent times and was engaging successfully with addiction services and counselling, as well as co-operating fully with probation services. 
Mr Owens explained while the first two of the thefts had been of alcohol, Slate had only stolen the drink to sell on to pay for his drug habit. With regard to the incident of cash from the parked vehicle in Lisnaskea, he said Slate was remorseful and that it had been “a purely opportunistic crime.” 
District Judge Paul Copeland said Slate had begun to gather a significant record in this jurisdiction despite only living in Fermanagh for a few years, and referred to his record in England as “voluminous”. Judge Copeland said all Slate’s previous convictions appeared to be either directly or indirectly related to his struggle with drug addiction. 
However, referring to a pre-sentence report carried out by Probation Services, which outlined the nature of the drugs Slate had been taking and the extent of his addiction, Judge Copeland said Slate had been made “a remarkable turnaround” in recent weeks and it was to Slate’s credit he had managed to get as far as he had, coming from a point
where his drug addiction had almost destroyed his life. 
As such, Judge Copeland said he did not feel it was appropriate to send Slate to prison due to the progress with agencies such as Ascert. 
Judge Copeland said he believed Slate would benefit from community service, sentencing him to 150 hours. 
He also ordered him to pay back the money and the value of the goods he had stolen. 
He warned Slate he had been given a chance, there were a lot of people willing to help him, and it was now up to him to “put your shoulder to the wheel” with regard his addiction issues. 

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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