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Community service and probation for man who ‘squared up’ to off-licence staff after stealing gin

The deputy district judge remarked: 'You went in behind the counter, you lifted a bottle of gin and put the bar tender in fear of violence. All of this was caught on CCTV'

Newry courthouse police

A Newry man who “squared up” to a member of staff after lifting a bottle of gin from behind the counter of a city off-licence has been sentenced to community service and probation.

The 37-year-old’s barrister told court that a number of “significant difficulties” in his client’s family life had led to an “escalation in offending”.

John Martin Gray, of Nursery Drive, appeared for sentencing on common assault and burglary at the city’s Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.

Prosecution outlined that on September 19, at 7pm, police received a report of a theft from Wineflair on Monaghan Street, Newry.

Around 10 minutes later, officers stopped a group of males in the area, one of which was identified as this defendant.

In a statement, a member of staff at the off-licence stated that a male matching Gray’s description had come behind the counter and taken a bottle of gin.

The defendant then “squared up” to the member of staff, causing him to fear he would be assaulted.

Gray was subsequently arrested. During interview he admitted to being “very intoxicated” the previous night but made no comment to all questions put to him.

Defence barrister Justin Bryne stated that a number of “significant difficulties” in his client’s family life had led to an “escalation in offending”.

He said: “There is nothing of this nature on his record. He was drinking heavily and taking tablets, this was going on for sometime, which led to this matter.”

Mr Byrne added that since the date of this offence Gray had remained out of trouble and had sought medical assistance for his issues.

Deputy District Judge Philip Mateer stated: “You went in behind the counter, you lifted a bottle of gin and put the bar tender in fear of violence. All of this was caught on CCTV.

“I can see from the report that you have remorse for your behaviour. I also note your domestic background and difficult things that have happened to you in your life which led you to take alcohol and other substances.”

He added: “I want to ensure that you avoid this in future and I also want you to pay back into the community”.

Gray was sentenced to an enhanced combination order consisting of 80 hours community service and 12 months probation.

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