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Man who used stolen bank card of deceased person to buy alcohol jailed for four months

"There's no direct evidence that it was removed from the deceased when he had actually died, but there has to be a lingering doubt about it."

A man who used a stolen bank card belonging to a deceased person to buy alcohol has been sentenced to four months in prison.

Edvinas Vaitekunas, (44), of no-fixed-abode but based in the Portadown area, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday via videolink from Maghaberry.

He was charged with fraud by false representation and receiving stolen goods.

For the charge of receiving stolen goods, the defendant was asked if he wished to be tried by a jury, or have the case dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court. He opted to stay in the Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty to the charge.

The court heard that on September 10, police were made aware that a body was found in a house on Clonavon Avenue in Portadown. Police determined that there was no sign of forced entry to the property.

They were informed by the deceased’s family that his wallet, containing his bank card and phone, were missing from the house.

Police conducted inquiries with the bank and confirmed that numerous transactions had been made using the card in the days before the deceased was found.

CCTV footage of the transactions from Tesco and Lidl in Lurgan were viewed and males were observed using the card, none of whom were the deceased.

The defendant was identified in Tesco Portadown on September 5, purchasing alcohol with the deceased’s card, totalling £21.10.

On October 18, police conducted a search at an address in Clonavon Avenue in Portadown in relation to the bank card and mobile phone. One of the suspects at the property was the defendant.

Vaitekunas’ defence barrister, Patrick Taylor, said there was no getting around the fact that this was a “mean offence”.

He said: “There’s no suggestion that the card was taken from the now deceased person whilst he was deceased but what is known is that the owner of the card was known to Mr Vaitekunas.”

He added that while the value of the items purchased were “fairly low”, the offence constituted a “breach of trust”.

“Having said that….there doesn’t appear to have been any forward planning. It was an opportunistic offence and one without sophistication,” he added.

Deputy District Judge Browne, presiding, said that it was a “disturbing case in many ways that anybody would behave like that”.

The Deputy District Judge added: “There’s no direct evidence that it was removed from the deceased when he had actually died, but there has to be a lingering doubt about it.

“In the circumstances, I would impose a sentence of four months imprisonment and I hope that the defendant thinks on what he has done and realises just how mean and nasty these offences were.”

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