Northern Ireland

Gambling addict who stole £17,000 from pensioner is jailed

Cormac McGuckin
Image caption Cormac McGuckin was sentenced to 20 months in jail

A man who stole more than £17,000 from a pensioner to pay for his gambling and wedding debts has been sent to prison.

Cormac McGuckin, 29, from Broagh village, Castledawson, County Londonderry, was given a 20-month jail sentence at Antrim Crown Court on Monday.

He admitted fraud, theft and impersonating a police officer.

Earlier, the court heard that he had befriended an elderly man and persuaded him to write blank cheques.

He then lodged the money to his own account.

The crime came to light when the victim's son discovered his father had a £10,000 overdraft.

When questioned about the fraud and theft, McGuckin admitted the offences.

The court heard that he also impersonated a police officer in a telephone call to a wedding shop in Portglenone.

McGuckin's fiancee had called to the shop to collect her tiara and wedding veil, but could not do so because of police queries about credit card transactions.

The court heard that there was "absolutely no question" that she had done anything wrong.

However, McGuckin called the shop in the guise of a police officer and said it was all right to release the veil and tiara.

A defence lawyer told the court that McGuckin would "almost inevitably lose his liberty, will likely lose his employment and will lose his ability to provide for his family".

The lawyer said McGuckin was "genuinely contrite, genuinely ashamed and remorseful".

The judge said the crime was driven by McGuckin's pathological gambling addiction.

McGuckin wept as the judge gave him a 20-month sentence for the theft and fraud and three months for impersonating a police officer to run concurrently.

He will spend eight months in prison and a further year on licence.

He has also been ordered to undergo psychological treatment for his addiction.