Patrick Pearse Killen, of Liscorran Court, Lurgan, pleaded guilty to making off without paying at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
The court heard that on April 11 at around 6.10pm a taxi driver contacted police from Carnegie Street, Lurgan, to report three people making off from his taxi and stealing a coin box.
He told officers he had picked up the group at Corrigan Court, Armagh, and had dropped them off at Tesco at, Millennium Way.
Court heard the fare was estimated at around £25, although this could not be confirmed as one of the defendant’s companions had turned off the meter.
All three were later identified and detained by police, with the £25 not being recovered.
During interview, Killen admitted to being in the taxi but said he assumed someone else would pay the fare as he had no money.
Defence counsel said the defendant had “no role” in the taking of the coin box and had not been involved in any plan.
At this time, she said Killen had been going through a “significantly difficult period of homelessness”.
In fact, she added, this had led to him being unable to provide a bail address and having to spend six weeks in prison on remand.
Court heard that Killen now lived with his mother and stepfather which had brought a level of stability.
Defence counsel also informed the court the defendant had been diagnosed with significant mental health problems.
She added that Killen was now abstaining from alcohol and drugs which marked a “turning point” in his life.
Despite this, District judge Bernie Kelly said she had been “left with no choice” as the defendant had not brought money to reimburse the taxi driver.
She commented: “This taxi driver was doing an honest day’s work, while you don’t work and just drink your life away.”
Killen was sentenced to three months in prison.
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