Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Tesco worker's 'pathetic kidnap charade in bid to steal £36k'

The night manager of a Tesco supermarket created a “charade” of being kidnapped by a masked gang in order to steal £36,200 from the firm.

Michael Thomas Kearns (41), from Brecanlea in Claudy, Co Londonderry, admitted stealing £36,201 from the supermarket in Limavady's Main Street.

He then drove to Geevagh in Co Sligo where he deposited the money in his uncle's post office.

At Derry Magistrates Court yesterday, a detective constable told Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter that Kearns “has made full and frank admissions in relation to the robbery”.

He said Kearns contacted the police in Limavady on Saturday and reported to them that he had been abducted by a masked gang while travelling into work.

Kearns said the gang used threats to force him to take the money from Tesco.

“The defendant was in an employment dispute with his employer at the time and after the theft he made up false cash entries to attempt to cover his actions,” the police officer said.

The detective said that during his time in police custody, Kearns told a medical officer that he intended to kill himself by gassing.

The police officer said he was opposing bail in the case because of fears that Kearns would abscond and because of his previous criminal convictions in England.

Defence solicitor Keith Kyle said: “Members of my client's family unravelled the whole thing and reported the matter to the Garda. His attempts to create the charade of a kidnapping were fairly pathetic.”

Applying for bail, Mr Kyle said the defendant had mental health issues which needed immediate and appropriate attention and added that a proposed bail address was available for Kearns to live in Blackpool with his girlfriend.

Refusing bail, Mr Prenter said although Kearns had no criminal record in Northern Ireland, he had numerous convictions for fraud, theft, shoplifting, making false statements and altering documents in Blackpool and Preston between 1989 and 1995.

Kearns was remanded in custody and will appear in court again for a video link hearing on September 2.

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