A judge has decided to deal with a man’s case at the Magistrates Court after a defence solicitor said he searched the internet and found valuations for stolen goods which were “drastically different” from an initial prosecution estimate of £20,000.
The original estimate had a previous judge querying whether the case should go to the Crown Court but now District Judge Liam McNally said the case should stay in Coleraine Magistrates Court. Colin Rockett (35), whose address was given as Maghaberry Prison but who is believed to be from Belfast, admitted stealing a mechanic’s trailer which he then loaded up with a haul of tools.
He struck near Dunloy in June 2016, Coleraine Magistrates Court heard. Rockett pleaded guilty to charges including burglary of a domestic garage when a twin axle trailer and various power tools and equipment were taken.
He also admitted driving offences and possessing cannabis. A prosecutor told an earlier hearing the mechanic’s tools had been built up over a long period of time.
She said the cost of the trailer and tools was £20,000.
She said the defendant claimed he was alone and admitted forcing the lock on the garage and loading up the trailer. The court was told police did recover some tools during a search of Rockett’s property but they were not the mechanic’s tools.
A defence solicitor told the previous hearing Rockett made full admissions and said a “drug debt” was the background to his client’s involvement in the offending behaviour. At the earlier hearing, District Judge Peter King said the value of the stolen items meant the case perhaps should have gone to the Crown Court as he didn’t believe the Magistrates Court sentencing powers were sufficient.
He adjourned the case to December 17 to allow the Public Prosecution Service to reconsider the venue for the case.
On December 17, after hearing defence solicitor Garrett Greene saying he had gone on the internet to get a “drastically different” valuation of the tools the judge said the case could stay in the Magistrates Court and and it was adjourned to January 14 for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.