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Homeless alcoholic, 54, is jailed for four months

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 25, 2013

  • Peter Coker - Homless

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A HOMELESS alcoholic who stole £500 from a woman who befriended him is today behind bars.

Peter Coker admitted stealing the money from Elizabeth McGuigan on December 6 after she trusted him with her keys to take some shopping back to her house.

Emma Thompson, prosecuting, told Burton Magistrates’ Court that the 54-year-old, who has been homeless for some time, had undertaken small jobs around the house and garden for Ms McGuigan after she befriended him 12 months ago.

She had also allowed him to sleep on her sofa during the flooding in the town.

On the day he stole from her, Ms McGuigan bumped into Coker in town and gave him her keys so he could take some shopping back to the house.

However, when she returned to her house, Ms McGuigan noticed Coker had taken all of his belongings, as well as pound coins which were in jars and posted her keys through the letter box.

She called the police and when questioned the defendant said he could not resist the temptation and he felt guilty for abusing her trust as Ms McGuigan had been kind to him.

Mrs Thompson added he has previous convictions for theft including going to prison for 12 weeks in July last year.

John Skinner, defending, said his client suffered from poor mental and physical health and was a alcoholic.

He said: “Part of this involves blackouts and he has no memory of committing the offence but he knows this is no excuse and he had the money in his pocket so put two and two together.

“The temptation overcame him and the money went on alcohol. He does regret committing the offence.” Mr Skinner added he has had difficulties in the past dealing with the probation service.

Presiding magistrate Martin Atterbury said: “This is a very serious offence as it is theft and a breach of trust. She befriended you and you took advantage of a person giving you trust. You have a history of dishonesty offences.”

Magistrates sentenced Coker to four months in prison.

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