Northern Ireland

Belfast man stole £30,000 from mother that was for funeral costs

Laganside Courts Complex
Image caption The case was heard at Belfast Crown Court

A Belfast man stole £30,000 from his mother that was for family funeral costs, a court has heard.

Christopher Joseph Boyle, 59, from Fitzroy Avenue was placed on probation for two years.

He admitted stealing the money which he then spent on drink and gambling.

A defence lawyer said his client suffered from a range of mental health issues including schizophrenia.

The prosecution said that in April 2013, Catherine Boyle told her five children she had saved £38,000, that she had placed under the stairs of the home she shared with her son, Christopher.

He said Mrs Boyle had "saved this money up over a significant number of years".

After she revealed the amount and whereabouts of the money to her five children, the siblings agreed it should be stored at her house and would be used for "funeral expenses for the older generation when the time came".

In November 2014, Mrs Boyle raised the prospect of covering funeral expenses with her eldest child Christopher - and it was at his stage that he told her there was only about £8,000 of the £38,000 left.

'Addicted to drink and betting'

When challenged, Boyle admitted he had spent the money on alcohol and gambling.

He also told a family member he would bet £500 or £1,000 on a horse race, adding he was "addicted to drink and betting".

The theft was reported to police, and when he was arrested and interviewed, Boyle made no comment.

The prosecution also revealed that since his arrest, Boyle has spent a total of five months on remand.

A defence lawyer reiterated his client's claim that he was addicted to both gambling and alcohol, saying Boyle was sorry for what he did - especially given that he had stolen from his own mother.

The lawyer also said that while the theft has meant Boyle is isolated both socially and from his family, there may be the potential for a reconciliation.

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