A long-serving Fermanagh PSNI mechanic has avoided prison for theft and breach of trust offences after admitting stealing numerous items from his workplace to a combined total of £3782.
Brian Milne (58) from Caldrum Road, Derrygonnelly was detected after suspicions were raised of “concerning behaviour” leading to investigations.
At the time he worked in the Motor Transport Department at PSNI Enniskillen and was responsible for the care and maintenance of vehicles.
Dungannon Crown Court heard CCTV was examined and Milne’s property was searched where a number of items were recovered.
He was interviewed and made admissions to stealing these from the police estate, although he queried if some of the items shown to him were stolen property.
The bulk of offending related to the theft of tyres totalling £2812.16 from 2020 to 2022.
Prior to that on various dates in 2019 he stole Audi shock absorbers costing £180.18, a power washer at £558.13, oil sprays at £17.52 and various car parts at £214.07.
Prosecution counsel Simon Reid added: “The loss to PSNI was £3782. It’s not so much the value of the thefts which brought this to the court, but the breach of trust aspect.”
A defence barrister said his client came under “great strain due to excessive responsibilities of financial pressures” after he and his wife embarked on building a new family home.
“They got themselves into significant debt, through no fault of their own. The defendant was under significant financial strain and still is. It is accepted culpability is high as is the breach of trust but the motivation was not to contribute to any sort of opulent or lavish lifestyle but to cut a few corners to make ends meet.”
The court was told Milne is now in a position to discharge the amount in full, however, “his employment with PSNI is going to end and there inevitably seems to be no way back, which will ultimately compound his financial pressures.”
Judge Brian Sherrard noted Milne held the role as a mechanic for PSNI in excess of 30 years and investigations began when he was observed on CCTV filling a jerrycan with fuel and his conduct caused suspicion.
“This represents an appalling breach of trust against your employer,” said the judge. “You appeared to have adopted the view that some of the items taken were scrap or indeed it was simply common case for items to be taken.
“It’s clear the thefts were at least in part to meet a deterioration in your own finances. Some items ended up being sold while others lay in your garage for years.”
He continued, “I’m mindful this represents a huge fall from grace. It seems likely these offences came at a time of immense stress both economically and in your family life … However, any theft such as this has an impact on the public purse and public confidence.”
Judge Sherrard Imposed a period of 10 months imprisonment which he agreed to suspend for two years.
Milne was also ordered to pay the full amount by way of compensation which the defence confirmed was ready to be paid immediately.
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