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Jail for 38-year-old who assaulted man selling him a blocked iPhone

Craigavon Courthouse

A Lurgan man who appeared in court in breach of four suspended sentences has been sentenced to serve seven and a half months in prison.

Paul John Whitla, 38, of Brownlow Terrace, appeared at Craigavon Magistrates’ on Friday charged with theft and common assault.

Upon hearing the charges District Judge Bernie Kelly stated the two charges put together added up to a robbery in her eyes.

Defence counsel countered this was not the case, telling the judge it was “technically not a robbery”.

It was heard that on May 2 the defendant was alleged to have stolen an iPhone 6 to the value of £140 and assaulted the same person he had taken the mobile from.

The defence added that Whitla had met the injured party to purchase the phone but soon realised that it was blocked to one network.

They added that the defendant felt he had been “treated badly” and run off with the phone.

The assault occurred after Whitla was caught by the injured party a short way up the road.

Court heard that the defendant had breached four suspended sentences through this offence.

Defence counsel stated that the defendant had been “doing well with probation save for this incident” and was “benefiting greatly”.

Judge Kelly said there was “only one outcome given his breach of suspended sentences, the seriousness of these charges and his record,” confirming that “the custody threshold had been met”.

She went on to say there was “no excuse for his actions” as he was handed four months in prison for these offences.

The Judge also invoked three and a half months of suspended sentences to run consecutively, stating she had given him credit and knocked one third off the length of these as he had been able to “stay out of trouble for a year”.

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