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Repeat sneak thief escapes jail

A SHETLAND electrician who stole money from a couple’s home while carrying out a job there just two years after being convicted of a similar offence escaped a jail sentence at Lerwick Sheriff Court.

Last month James Stewart Robertson, aged 48, of Willial, Levenwick, had admitted taking £40 from the house in Virkie last year.

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Appearing for sentence on Wednesday, defence agent Tommy Allan said the biggest problem facing Robertson was going to be rebuilding trust in the community.

In 2009 Robertson received two years probation and a three month tagging order for fraud and attempted theft after insinuating himself into people’s homes to steal money while falsely claiming to be an on duty electrician when he was in fact on sick leave.

On 31 October he was helping a fellow electrician he had persuaded to trust him, when they went to the house to carry out repairs. Robertson stole money the couple had taken out of the bank to pay for the job.

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Defence agent Tommy Allan said his client had a huge bridge to build in regaining people’s trust.

“It’s difficult to imagine how he can get that trust back and he will have to work very hard to do that. In a way that’s more of a sentence than anything your lordship can do in this court,” Mr Allan said.

Sheriff Philip Mann said he had difficulty believing Robertson’s story to social workers that the money had been in a box that fell out of a drawer while he was in the house.

The sheriff said: “You took the opportunity whilst in this house to look for the possibility of obtaining money and that’s a serious matter given that you have a similar previous conviction and that really brings in the prospect of a custodial sentence.”

Instead Sheriff Mann ordered Robertson to carry out 160 hours community service and asked him to hand over £40 he had brought to the court, which will be passed on to the couple who lost out.

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