Belfast Telegraph

DJ who lied about dad's death to cancel bookings avoids jail

By Michael McHugh

A rogue DJ who cancelled numerous wedding bookings by falsely claiming his father had died has avoided serving a prison sentence.

Michael Stockman was convicted of taking £800 from six customers before their marriage ceremonies or parties, only to fail to turn up – often texting his unwitting victims at short notice.

At least four times the 31-year-old claimed his father had died that morning or the previous day.

A judge at Coleraine Magistrates Court yesterday sentenced him to six months in prison but suspended it for three years because he had repaid the money and had not committed further offences since his conviction.

District Judge Liam McNally said: "I took a view at that stage that the drawback of immediately sending you to prison was that those people whose wedding plans were so cruelly destroyed by you would in all probability never be recompensed for the money which they have paid to you. To ensure that they were paid back in full I deferred sentencing for a period of six months."

He said the money had been returned and no further offending had taken place since then.

Mr McNally added: "You have passed both those tests and accordingly I am going to sentence you to six months in custody. I am going to suspend that for the maximum period allowed to me, three years."

Stockman is contesting separate theft charges, he told the court. The alleged offences, similar to those of which he was convicted, happened before he received his no reoffending ultimatum from the judge, according to a representative of the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

His lawyer Francis Rafferty said the accused will give evidence at his trial. Mr Rafferty added: "He has expressed a particular opinion with regard to his level or lack of criminal responsibility.

"I am not disputing the prosecution case on foot of my client's instructions, therefore the only person required for the contest will be the defendant to give evidence in chief and be cross-examined."

The lawyer said at issue were "the circumstances that he said were prevailing at the time that he took the money from the people".

Stockman, from Knockantern Green in Coleraine, Co Londonderry, faces 12 new counts of theft, totalling around £1,200, allegedly committed in 2012 and 2013.

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"Michael Stockman was callous in the extreme, telling lie after lie. His actions left six couples on the eve or day of their wedding facing the prospect of having no entertainment for their reception. He caused anguish and upset and then compounded this by ignoring requests to refund the money paid. It is Trading Standards' belief that Michael Stockman never intended to fulfil these bookings."

Moira Todd of Trading Standards

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