Lurgan man 'hasn't particularly enjoyed his time in jail' barrister at Craigavon court reveals

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A barrister said his client hasn’t ‘particularly enjoyed’ his time in jail, as a Lurgan man was sentenced at Craigavon Magistrates Court.

Connor Wayne Whitla, aged 30, from Hill Court, Hill Street, appeared via video link from Maghaberry Prison before Craigavon Magistrates Court.

He faced three sets of charges ranging from theft of a WiFi box from a car wash to possession of cocaine. Whitla’s barrister Mr David McKeown said he would be pleading guilty to all charges.

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Craigavon courthouse. Picture: Tony Hendron.Craigavon courthouse. Picture: Tony Hendron.
Craigavon courthouse. Picture: Tony Hendron.
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The court heard that on August 20, 2022, police received a report that two men were collected at the Hilton hotel by a taxi driver and made off without paying.

In a separate set of charges, Whitla is accused of theft of a PlayStation 5 worth £500, possession of cocaine, having no driving licence or insurance and failing to provide a specimen on March 6 this year.

A prosecutor said: “He drove to Hoop Hill Park in Lurgan where he took a PlayStation belonging to a woman. Police viewed CCTV and later arrested the defendant.” During a search of Whitla, police seized a bag of Class A drugs and he was further arrested. He admitted to driving with no insurance or licence.

In a third set of charges, Whitla is accused of stealing an EE WiFi box valued at £50, belonging to Silverwood Car Wash on October 24 last year.

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Defence barrister Mr McKeown said Whitla pleaded at the first opportunity and has been in custody since March 7 this year.

"He has had problems with alcohol and drugs over the years, he has now served his longest continuous time in custody. Without being trite, I don’t think he has particularly enjoyed it.

"This has been a wake-up call to him and he is keen not to return. He was very keen to plead although there may have been defences to some of the charges. He realises he has done wrong and has to atone for his error,” said Mr McKeown, who added that the defendant had bail fixed but wasn’t able to perfect and address.

District Judge Michael Ranaghan said: “He doesn’t have the best record. However I will deal with your client on a time-served basis.”

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For making off without paying, Whitla was given a three months jail sentence. For the theft of the WiFi box he also sentenced Whitla to three months and to run concurrently to the previous sentence.

For the theft of the PlayStation Whitla was given a three months jail term to run consecutive to the previous offences. For possession of the Class A drug he was also give a three months jail term to run concurrently. For no driving licence and no insurance he received a six months driving ban on each. For failing to provide a specimen he was given a 16 months disqualification.

District Judge Ranaghan said: “That’s a total sentence of six months and a total driving disqualification of 16 months.”

The district judge said he had no doubt Whitla will be released from prison soon.