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Man who ‘survives on benefits’ caused over £2,500 damage to property on one night in Armagh

He smashed windows in TG Hawthorne, stole sofa cushion before damaging car as he walked down Scotch Street

Scotch Street, Armagh

An Armagh man who caused in excess of £2,500 worth of damage in one night has been sentenced to four months in prison.

The 24-year-old’s solicitor told court that reparations would be difficult as the defendant “survives on benefits” and hadn’t worked for some time.

James Livingstone, 24, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal damage and theft at the city’s Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, where he appeared via videolink from Maghaberry.

Court heard that in the early hours of January 29, police received a report that the defendant had smashed the windows of T G Hawthorne’s store in Scotch Street, Armagh.

Livingstone entered the property through a window and stole a sofa cushion.

He then proceeded to walk down the street with the item under his arm.

As the defendant passed a silver Mercedes vehicle he kicked the wing mirrors, damaged the window and pulled its badge off.

Livingstone was arrested for the offences at 2.30am and was taken to Dungannon custody suite.

Whilst there, court heard the defendant spat in a cell.

The prosecution told court the estimated total damage was in excess of £2,500.

When interviewed about the offences, Livingstone said he could not remember but accepted he may have taken the items.

He told police that he had consumed a bottle of vodka on the day in question.

Defence solicitor Jarlath Fields stated: “This was a drink-fuelled offence as are all of the entries on Mr Livingstone’s record.”

District Judge Brian Archer commented: “What concerns me is that he has nowhere to reside upon his release.

“If he ends up homeless and goes back on the alcohol he will be back before this court again.”

Mr Fields said: “He is going to apply for emergency accommodation. This is a man who can behave himself when he is off alcohol.

“He instructs that on the day in question he bumped into a friend who persuaded him to drink.”

Addressing the likelihood of reparations, the solicitor stated: “This is a person who survives on benefits, he hasn’t been employed for some time now.”

District Judge Archer said: “Mr Livingstone, it is quite clear that you are a person with alcohol problems. Unless you deal with that you will be before this court again.

“You have spent seven weeks in custody but I do not see this as sufficient for the £2,500 worth of damage which you caused.”

The defendant was sentenced to four months in prison for these offences.

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