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Taxi-ride thief locked up

taxi rideA HAVERFORDWEST man was sent to prison for 14 weeks by the town’s magistrates on Wednesday.

Liam John Matthews, aged 28, of Holloway, pleaded guilty to theft, not paying a taxi fare and criminal damage.

Prosecuting, Nicholas Newton said: “All occurred in the late hours of November 23, running into the early hours of November 24. Matthews got a taxi from Prendergast to Murco petrol station near Withybush Hospital. He told the driver to wait for him while he went inside the garage. While he was in there, he stole sandwiches, milk and alcohol. He was seen by the shop assistant who shouted to him as he left without paying. He then ran from the taxi driver. The police were contacted and Matthews was found in the general area. He was also subject to an electronic tag, which he broke.

“Matthews claims he cannot remember the events due to being intoxicated. He was on a suspended prison sentence at the time of the offence, and was in breach of the order and the curfew”. Defence solicitor, Jonathan Webb said:

“Matthews breached his suspended sentence within one month. If you must activate the sentence, you must activate it today unless you feel it is unjust to do so. You then must decide is it going to be for part of the sentence or all? It is not at the top end of his offences.

“He has children, though he is not allowed contact with them, and as a result is hiding at the bottom of a bottle. When he is not intoxicated, he is the nicest person you would wish to meet. Things got on top of him and he committed petty crimes. They are not serious offences.

“This would be his first taste of a custodial environment. Please bear that in mind. I believe it will do him some good to serve this sentence – it may well be the help he needs to turn a corner”.

The magistrates told the court: “We have listened to his record and we believe Matthews has stretched the legal system to the limit. We will therefore give him four weeks imprisonment for the theft, four weeks imprisonment for making off without paying the taxi fare, and a further four weeks for the criminal damage, all to run concurrently. We are evoking the suspended sentence of 16 weeks, though are giving him credit of two weeks for the early guilty plea”.