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Mobile phone ‘selfie’ feature snares handbag thief who ‘lied through her teeth’

Woman took handbag in pub and dumped it in disabled toilets minus the contents

mobile phone

A Lurgan woman who stole a handbag containing a mobile phone was caught on camera by a selfie capture security feature.

Court heard that this along with a tracking feature led to the arrest of the 39-year-old.

Michelle Coughran, 39, of Garland Crescent, pleaded guilty to theft at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Court heard that on November 24, police received a report from the injured party that her handbag had been stolen from the Beehive bar in Craigavon.

She stated that inside the bag, which she believed to have gone missing at around 1 am, had been a Samsung Galaxy S7 mobile, along with several other items.

Court heard that the injured party had activated a security feature on the phone which tracked its location and took a selfie picture if it was touched.

The handbag was located in the bin of the disabled toilets at the bar, but the contents had been taken.

The phone was tracked to an address in Garland Crescent, Lurgan.

The injured party later emailed images from the security selfie capture feature.

Her sister recognised the woman’s face, which had been captured, as someone who had been at the bar that evening.

On November 26, the defendant’s next door neighbour contacted police as they had found a phone lying in their back garden.

This was brought to Lurgan police station on November 28.

Police later identified Coughran as the female caught on the selfie capture feature and she was arrested.

When interviewed, the defendant claimed that the mobile had been placed in her bag by someone and that she only found it when she returned home.

Coughran claimed that she had been photographed when attempting to answer the phone.

Court heard that the mobile had been returned to the injured party with no damage.

Defence solicitor Siun Downey stated: “Ms Coughran is a woman from the Lurgan area, she is a mother and is the carer of her 15-year-old son who had health difficulties.”

She added that the defendant offered no explanation as to why she had taken the mobile.

District Judge Bernie Kelly commented: “You and I know the explanation, she is a thief and an opportunity presented itself to her.”

Ms Downey said: “She is extremely embarrassed and has nothing on her record, except for TV licensing matters.”

District Judge Kelly stated: “She takes things without paying for them, then lies through her teeth.

“We women carry a lot of things in our handbags, for example, photos of deceased relatives which we will never get back.”

Ms Downey said: “Ms Coughran holds her hands up and she does not wish to mitigate the matter.”

District Judge Kelly stated: “You stole a woman’s handbag and phone, dumped both, then lied through your teeth.

“This is about as nasty an offence as you can commit.”

She asked the defendant: “If you go to prison, what happens to your children?”

Coughran responded with a shrug.

District Judge Kelly continued: “This tells me a lot, you shrug your shoulders, that shows how much you care.”

The defendant was sentenced to three months in prison suspended for two years.

The district judge added: “I quite like this selfie capture feature to catch thieves in the act.”

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