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Heroin addict jailed for stealing £4,100 from pensioner in Post Office

By Ashleigh McDonald

Published 14/06/2016

A heroin addict who stole money bags from a pensioner lodging cash at a Post Office has been jailed for a year
A heroin addict who stole money bags from a pensioner lodging cash at a Post Office has been jailed for a year

A heroin addict who stole money bags from a pensioner lodging cash at a Post Office has been jailed for a year.

Patrick James Christopher Watson admitted robbing £4,133 from the 67-year old man, who chased him afterwards.

Following his arrest, Watson (43) blamed his actions on withdrawal, telling police: "I was coming off the heroin that day. It makes you do mad things."

The defendant, from Dunlewey Street in west Belfast, was handed a two-year sentence, with half to be spent in custody and the remainder on licence.

The incident at Belfast's Botanic Avenue Post Office was caught on CCTV and branded as "spur of the moment" by Watson's defence barrister.

Very little of the money stolen by the defendant was recovered, but the pensioner was praised by Judge Sandra Crawford for his "quick actions".

Crown prosecutor Mark Farrell said the robbery occurred around noon last September 1.

As the pensioner was lodging money on behalf of the Naval Association, Watson, who was behind him in the queue, reached over and lifted several money bags before fleeing. The man chased the defendant, but was unable to apprehend him.

Belfast Crown Court heard the amount being lodged was just over £7,500 and that the amount stolen was £4,133.

Mr Farrell said that although the man was not physically hurt, he was "shaken by the robbery".

Defence barrister Joel Lindsay said he accepted the offence was "horrible" but added: "This was a spur of the moment incident where he (Watson) was genuinely in the Post Office... and upon seeing this gentleman, a momentary decision was taken to take these items."

Pointing out that the incident was captured on CCTV, Mr Lindsay said Watson was not wearing a mask or gloves and knew he would be caught.

Mr Lindsay also spoke of Watson's interview with police after he was arrested two days later.

At that time, the defendant told officers he was suffering from heroin withdrawal and said: "I'm disgusted with myself."

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