Johnstone thief earns himself a fine … and a job after stealing from uncle

A nephew who broke into his uncle’s house with a screwdriver was rewarded with a joinery apprenticeship, a court was told.

Declan Johnstone, 24, got a job –and a court fine – after he targeted the home of his uncle Christopher Craig by using the screwdriver to force the back door lock.

Once inside, Johnstone pinched a generator and wheelbarrow from the property at Bruce Avenue, Johnstone, which was unoccupied and undergoing renovation.

Paisley Sheriff Court heard he made such a racket during the “peculiar course of conduct” that neighbours overheard him and reported the break-in to cops early on the morning of April 25, 2018.

Procurator fiscal depute Carol Cameron explained that residents were “woken by loud banging” coming from the property at 4.30am.

She said: “A witness looked out the window and saw the accused wearing a hi-vis vest and dark clothing.

“The accused is in the back garden, which faces the rear of another property.

“He makes his way inside.

“The witness sees him carry an item and place it in the back garden.

“The accused then takes a wheelbarrow and goes out the garden and onto the pavement at Bruce Avenue.”

Cops who were called about the break-in arrived at the street and caught Johnstone outside pushing the wheelbarrow.

He had discarded the generator in the garden.

The court heard officers discovered the screwdriver in his trouser pocket, and promptly arrested him.

On checking the property, they discovered he had forced the back door using the screwdriver.

He appeared in the dock before Sheriff Lindsey Kooner where he pleaded guilty to a charge of housebreaking and stealing a power generator and a wheelbarrow.

He also admitted another offence of failing to appear at court in December 10, 2019.

Defence agent Waqqas Ashraf said: “He had issues with Valium and was completely under the influence of drugs.

“It was a peculiar course of conduct and he cannot explain why he did this.

“He takes the wheelbarrow and yet leaves the power generator.

“His uncle Mr Craig has expressed an extreme level of sympathy towards him and he offered him a position with his company as an apprentice joiner.

“He has been working for his uncle for one year and has even been promoted to team leader.”

Sheriff Kooner told the thief, who lives in Johnstone with his partner: “Breaking into a residential property is a serious offence.

“This is not lost on the complainer, who has extended an opportunity to you by offering you employment.

“I am prepared to deal with this matter by imposing a fine.”

She handed him a £630 fine and admonished him for his failure to

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