‘You are more of a fool than a criminal’ - judge tells man who stole five dinghies
- Credit: citizenside.com
A man who stole five sailing dinghies worth more than £12,000 from customers of his Suffolk chandlery business has walked free from court after a judge decided not to send him straight to prison.
Passing a suspended prison sentence on 26-year-old John McMurtrie, Judge David Goodin told him: “It is plain to me you are more of a fool than a criminal. In my assessment you are not one of nature’s con men. If I thought you were you would be going straight to prison.”
He said that McMurtie had started a genuine business but had got out of his depth and had panicked and lied to customers.
McMurtrie, who now lives in Scotland, admitted five offences of theft of sailing dinghies and theft of £2,000 from another customer.
He was given a 15-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work in the community. He was also ordered to pay £14,300 compensation to the victims of the thefts.
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Charles Kellett, prosecuting, told the court that McMurtrie had an interest in sailing through Aldeburgh Sailing Club and had set up a chandlery business in rented premises in the area.
He had got into arrears with his rent and his landlady had eventually changed the locks to the doors.
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Five customers who gave McMurtrie sailing dinghies to sell for them had been fobbed off with excuses by the defendant and had not received money from the sale of the dinghies or had the boats returned to them.
A sixth customer had paid McMurtrie £2,000 for a boat but did not get the boat or get his money back. When McMurtrie was interviewed he said he had a number of difficulties and had been locked out of his premises which left him unable to get paperwork which would have allowed him to follow up matters relating to his business.
His business had got into a state of chaos and he had fobbed off customers who were chasing money that was owed to them with excuses and lies, the court heard. He had also returned to Scotland which made it difficult for customers to track him down.
Jamie Sawyer, for McMurtrie, said his client had sold the dinghies he was accused of stealing and had £14,300 cash to pay compensation to the six victims of the thefts. He said his client had started his business at 21 and had committed the offences as a result of his business getting out of control.