Belfast Telegraph

DJ who took cash to play weddings then didn't show on day faces 12 new theft charges

By David Young

The conviction of a DJ who cancelled wedding bookings after claiming his father had died prompted other couples to come forward claiming similar fraud, a court has heard.

Michael Stockman (30) has already been found guilty of taking £800 from six customers before their marriage ceremonies or parties and then failing to turn up, often texting his victims the news at short notice.

At least four times he claimed his father had died that morning or the previous day.

Coleraine Magistrates Court heard that Stockman, from Knockantern Green in the town, now faces 12 new counts of theft.

A prosecution lawyer told district judge Liam McNally the fresh claims totalled around £1,200.

"As a result of the publicity around the first case, a number of other complainants made themselves known," she said.

Stockman's lawyer Briege Martin said her client had already raised the £800 to pay back the money owed from his original conviction in January.

She added that the defendant, who stood in court in jeans and a purple and white jacket, intended to pay all the money he owed.

Judge McNally was due to sentence Stockman in relation to the January case yesterday, but he agreed to a two-week adjournment to enable the DJ's lawyer to make representations regarding the 12 new counts.

The judge also asked for a pre-sentence report to be compiled by the Probation Service.

"We can't complete this case today," he said. "Because of the original reporting, more aggrieved parties may get reimbursed.

"It's certainly my intention that every aggrieved party gets the money back that they are owed by Mr Stockman."

At the original hearing, which Stockman failed to attend, a Trading Standards officer told the court the defendant had not repaid deposits from nine victims left in the lurch between January and September 2012.

Stockman was convicted in his absence of theft, but he was then allowed to contest the case when he showed up in court the following month. At that hearing, Stockman said he had been unable to play at the weddings as his nose had been bitten off in an assualt.

He told the judge: "Every time I looked in the mirror I cried – I didn't leave the house for eight months."

Stockman also claimed he had attempted to arrange cover from other DJs but had been let down. And he added that after one such back-up pulled out, blaiming the death of his father, he panicked and "basically passed the message on".

He said although he had managed to pay back 20 of the 30 or so deposits he had taken, he had been unable to repay the rest because he was unable to save enough money as he could not work.

Stockman maintained he always intended to honour his commitments.

"My intention was to provide them with a professional disco so they could enjoy the most important day of their lives," he said.

However, when convicting him, Judge McNally poured scorn on his claims.

"I've no doubt he knew when he collected the money that he was not going to be able to provide the service," he said.

Stockman is due to appear in court again on September 19.

Belfast Telegraph

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