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Hotel guest who trashed room granted bail to appeal jail sentence

By Alan Erwin

Published 30/07/2016

A man who trashed a Belfast hotel room and fled without paying a £180 bar bill has been sentenced to six months' jail
A man who trashed a Belfast hotel room and fled without paying a £180 bar bill has been sentenced to six months' jail

A man who trashed a Belfast hotel room and fled without paying a £180 bar bill has been sentenced to six months' jail.

Stephen McCleland (27), was handed a four-month term for inflicting damage to fixtures and fittings at Madison's, and a further two months for stealing £210 worth of food and alcohol from a supermarket a day earlier.

A judge at Belfast Magistrates' Court told him: "This was shocking behaviour and abuse of the position you were placed in, in taking the hotel room."

However, the defendant was released on bail pending an appeal against the sentence.

McCleland, of College Court Central in the city, booked into Madison's on Botanic Avenue for a night's stay on June 2.

It is alleged that he then ran up a bill on drinks, snacks and room service with another, unidentified man.

Later that night, staff at the hotel were alerted to smashing and banging noises from one of the rooms, the court heard.

A night porter went to investigate and found two men leaving. When he told them the police had been called, one man lifted a fire extinguisher, with which the porter feared he would be hit.

The men then ran from the hotel, but McCleland was detained nearby.

An examination of the room found damage to a safe, mirror, crockery, lamp and telephone.

The cost of repairs was not disclosed, but Deputy District Judge Austin Kennedy was told the room had to stay shut for the following weekend.

With Madison's said to be fully booked at the time, the closure caused a further loss in trade, a prosecution lawyer said.

It was revealed in court that McCleland had since secured a job as a barman at a hotel.

The defendant pleaded guilty to criminal damage, common assault and making off without payment. He also admitted stealing £210.35 of food and drink from Asda on June 1.

Passing sentence, Mr Kennedy said: "Trashing the room in Madison's Hotel and the altercation with staff thereafter (was) a shocking episode."

As well as jailing McCleland for six months, the judge ordered him to pay £180.95 for the unpaid bar bill. He allowed the defendant to be released on £500 bail until his appeal hearing.

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