A couple who embarked on a “despicable” crime when they stole from the house of a friend who had just died are beginning their early days of married life in jail.
David McKinnon has been sentenced to 16 months in prison after admitting breaking into the Lerwick home of Jamie Thomson two days after his death.
The problem drug user’s co-accused Kelly Ross was sentenced to 38 weeks after she admitted her part in the offence.
McKinnon, 32 of Hoofields in the town, previously admitted breaking into Mr Thomson’s home in Grodians just two days after he died. McKinnon was high on legal drugs when he broke through a window on 29th July. He helped himself to his dead friend’s games console in order to pay off a drugs debt.
Ross, meanwhile, stole a necklace that was of sentimental value to Mr Thomson’s grieving family. The necklace was recovered in time for the funeral, however, and Mr Thomson, who was the victim of a vicious assault in 2011, was laid to rest wearing it.
The offence happened after Mr Thomson’s mother had shown kindness to McKinnon.
Sentence on the couple had been deferred for reports. Their appearance last month came a day before their planned marriage to each other.
But today both appeared in court carrying bags and each expecting a custodial sentence.
Defence agent for McKinnon, Tommy Allan, said his client had taken a mixture of prescribed medication and legal highs on the day in question.
He said McKinnon had found himself caught up in financial troubles involving drugs. That meant he was left owing a sum of money he did not have access to.
McKinnon had said the offence was “without doubt” the worst thing he had ever done.
Mr Allan said McKinnon had faced outrage and threats since the offence came to light.
“He has pled guilty and takes full responsibility for what he did. He feels all the worse about this because of the kindness shown to him by the complainer’s mother.”
Sheriff Philip Mann highlighted a section in the social work report which appeared to indicate Ross had suggested she did not, in fact, steal the necklace.
However, her agent, Euan Gosney, insisted she did accept the narration put forward by procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie.
He added she accepted how “depraved” the offence was, and the anguish it had caused to Mr Thomson’s family.
“She describes herself as being sickened by her behaviour,” he said. “Her remorse, to that end, appears genuine.”
He urged sheriff Mann to consider imposing a restriction of liberty order on her as a direct alternative to custody.
“The court will know Miss Ross has experienced such an order and has completed it. It would have to be imposed, for the maximum period, as a direct alternative to custody.”
However, sheriff Mann said a prison sentence had to be considered.
He told McKinnon: “This was a particularly despicable and reprehensible crime.”
The sheriff added that, for McKinnon, there was “no alternative” to a custodial sentence, adding the prison term imposed would have been 20 months had it not been for his early plea.
The sheriff told Ross he had listened carefully to what had been said but was not persuaded that a community-based disposal could be imposed on her either.