15th August 2018
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‘Cunning thief’ stole from his grandfather’s house

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A “cunning thief” who broke into his grandfather’s house in Aith and stole £20 has been warned he could face prison.

Ian Mutch, 22, of Arheim in Lerwick waited until his relative had gone away for a pre-arranged hospital appointment in January before breaking a window-pane in a door to gain entry to the premises.

Mutch, who suffers from learn­ing difficulties, admitted the offence yesterday at Lerwick Sheriff Court. He was described as having a “highly developed sense of cunning” by procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie.

The fiscal described how the accused turned off the electrical mains at the fuse box to avoid unintentionally turning on a light and drawing attention to himself from outside.

Mutch went into a bedroom where his grandfather kept a money-box and stole the cash from it. He admitted the offence after suspicion fell on him.

In a separate incident, while on bail, Mutch stole two ladders from an address in the town’s Longland in August. That was to help him gain access to a first floor flat in Arheim, where he helped himself to a lap-top computer and a bank statement. The occupant of the flat was away in Aberdeen at the time.

Mr MacKenzie said it was a “common thread” for Mutch to target properties if he knew the occupants were away.

“On one hand, yes, he has a learning disability. On the other hand, he is a common thief,” the fiscal told the court. “With people like this living in the community it forces normal, law-abiding people to change their habits to protect their property. Clearly he has a difficulty on how to follow basic instructions on how to behave.”

Mutch also landed in hot water by breaching a curfew. The court heard he had been at the pub and, on return to his accommodation, was told he had been out too long to comply with the order. He then went to the police station to report the breach. Unfortunately for Mutch, “no evidence” had come to light that he had breached the order – except that he was standing in the police station after his cut-off time.

The fiscal added: “There was no evidence to suggest he had been in the pub, but by attending the police station to report that he had breached the curfew … He breached the curfew.”

Defence agent Tommy Allan said it would be best for Mutch not to get used to the idea of being in custody. That followed a query over whether Mutch had actually enjoyed  being locked up.

“There was a question when he last spent time on remand as to whether he had enjoyed it. My submission would be not to set him up to get used to the idea of custody.”

Mr Allan said the offences were not at the most serious end of the scale, although he admitted “clearly there is a pattern emerging here.”

The agent said there was a possibility of Mutch being evicted from his home, which would cause him problems.
He urged sheriff Philip Mann to call for an updated social enquiry report.

“Having spoken to the social worker, he [Mutch] seems to be at a bit of a crossroads.”

Sheriff Mann deferred sentence until 10th December. He released Mutch on bail until then, with a special condition he remains indoors between 7pm and 7am.

“I find this a difficult case to deal with. On one hand I take on board you’ve got certain vulnerabilities, but you’ve got to understand you can’t continue to act in this manner. At some point, if you continue to act in this manner, there is only one thing that is appropriate, and that’s the disposal of a custodial sentence. People are entitled to be free of the menace that you pose.”

He added: “If you end up with a custodial sentence you will be the author of your own misfortune.”