Bride-to-be cleared of knowingly receiving diamond engagement ring that was stolen from pensioner
A prosecution lawyer questioned why Zara Mutch, 28, wasn't suspicious a youth "dressed like a tramp" was offering jewellery
A bride-to-be who was given a diamond engagement ring taken from a pensioner was acquitted today of knowingly receiving stolen goods.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard Zara Mutch, 28, posted a Facebook photograph of the jewellery after accepting a wedding proposal.
The ring, valued at around £1,000, had been bought from a youth for £80, a judge was told.
But Ms Mutch, a mother-of-four from Abbey Place in Holywood, Co Down, denied knowing it was stolen.
She was said to have been with her partner in Belfast back in March when they encountered a teenager carrying an envelope full of jewellery he claimed to be selling for his mother.
According to her account she picked out a ring and lent the money to buy it.
Later that evening her partner proposed to her, the court heard.
"He went down on one knee in the kitchen," Ms Mutch recalled.
She then put a picture of the ring on social media, insisting she had no concerns about it.
"I didn't even know the diamonds were real," she added.
Ms Mutch stressed that she only became aware the ring had been stolen when contacted by police.
In cross-examination, a prosecution lawyer questioned why she wasn't suspicious that a youth "dressed like a tramp" had been offering jewellery.
The defendant replied: "He told me it was for his mum."
Urging the judge to convict, the prosecutor claimed Ms Mutch must have known where the jewellery came from.
"She ends up with a diamond ring worth £1,000 for £80, and then gets engaged that night," the lawyer argued.
But defence counsel Kelly Doherty countered that her client's behaviour showed she was unaware the goods were stolen.
The barrister pointed out: "She put a photograph up on Facebook; this is not the action of someone concerned about the origins of the ring.
"This is a lady who effectively had in many respects been the victim of a dupe."
Clearing Ms Mutch, District Judge Fiona Bagnall said the case depended on her state of mind.
She ruled: "I'm not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt and dismiss the charge."