Belfast Telegraph

Woman jailed for not paying £37.90 restaurant bill

By Alan Erwin

A woman who left a restaurant without paying was jailed today in a bid to help her beat an addiction to drink.

Eimear Symington was given a month behind bars for fleeing from the Potted Hen in Belfast following a £37.90 meal.

She will also serve a further month in prison after a suspended sentence from a previous theft case was activated.

A judge told the 26-year-old her confession to being an alcoholic "almost makes me cry".

Symington, with an address on the Falls Road in Belfast, admitted a charge of making off without paying the bistro.

Her co-accused, Gerard McAdam, 33, from Cantebury Street in the city, pleaded guilty to the same offence.

The pair had gone into the restaurant, located in the Cathedral Quarter, on February 23.

Sitting at Belfast Magisrates' Court, District Judge Bernadette Kelly gave McAdam one week to gather up the money owed for the meal.

He was told a conditional discharge may be handed down.

But a lawyer for Symington indicated she was seeking imprisonment in a bid to help her dry out.

Judge Kelly said: "I don't know where to start, especially with someone like you - quite clearly bright, well-educated and with so much potential.

"You are telling me, and I have to say that almost makes me cry, that at the ripe old age of 26 you are an alcoholic.

"Even at 26 you still have a whole life ahead of you if you get the help you need."

Imposing a total of two months in prison, the judge added that it was the only available penalty.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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