Restaurant charity box thief remains in custody

A man has been remanded after he admitted stealing a charity box from the Nepalese restaurant Gurkha Kitchen in Lerwick, which was gathering funds following the earthquake in Nepal.

John Gibson, 38, of Bruce Crescent, Lerwick, was quickly discovered by staff at the eatery after he helped himself to the collection tin on 21st September.

He was restrained and held in place by staff and a customer until the police came. But once officers arrived on the scene he resisted arrest.

He was subsequently released on bail but was quickly brought back to task after breaching a curfew order.

The offence came after a previous incident on 19th July when Gibson shouted and swore at police, calling one of them a “Fenian bastard”.

Gibson, who has been held in remand on and off since then, had had his sentence deferred at Lerwick Sheriff Court for background reports. Social workers will assess whether he is suitable for a drug testing and treatment order (DTTO).

Gibson admitted shouting, swearing and behaving aggressively inside a police vehicle and at the police station, as well as making threats aggravated by religious prejudice.

He also pleaded guilty to taking a charity box containing a quantity of money, and resisting lawful arrest – despite being subject to three bail orders.

He further admitted breaching a curfew the following day, being verbally abusive towards police and hitting his head off his cell walls and door.

The court heard the July incident kicked off when Gibson fell out with his partner, accusing her of taking money from him.

Procurator fiscal Duncan MacKenzie said Gibson’s behaviour with the police was “really as it always is”.

“It’s no exaggeration to describe him as a thoroughly disgusting individual,” Mr MacKenzie said. “There was a tirade of abuse that endured for some considerable time.”

He added that the religious prejudice element happened when Gibson referred to an officer as “a Fenian bastard”.

Referring to the theft from the Gurkha Kitchen, Mr MacKenzie said the charity box contained money destined for areas affected by the “devastating” earthquake in Nepal.

“He was discovered by staff and restrained and held there by a member of staff and a customer,” the fiscal said.

“The police arrived. It comes as no surprise to him what’s going to happen, but nevertheless he thought that because he was going to be remanded, he was going to fight with the police.”

Police attended at his bail address the following day and received no answer at the door. They became concerned for Gibson’s safety after a look through the window revealed his home was in a terrible state.

“It looked as if it had been ransacked,” Mr MacKenzie said.

They checked inside the house but could not find him. But they went back later on that night and, at that point, Gibson was inside.

Mr MacKenzie said Gibson had an “extensive” record, although he had been making “significant progress” in staying out of trouble.

“He has fallen off the waggon somewhat spectacularly,” the fiscal added.

Defence agent Craig Dewar said Gibson had been “disgusted by his own actions” following the theft of the charity tin.

He said it was fortunate that Gibson was stopped where he was and no loss was suffered.

He added that the relationship between Gibson and his partner had ended. Gibson had suspected she had taken money from him. Gibson, he said, was less than keen that she be allowed entry to the house.

Mr Dewer said Gibson’s actions in the police cell were “not the behaviour of someone acting logically,” suggesting it could have been a sign of mental health difficulties which Gibson had struggled with in the past.

He stressed that while Gibson’s record was extensive it had tailed off from 2012.

Sheriff Philip Mann called for background reports so Gibson’s suitability for a DTTO order could be assessed. But he said  he wanted to do that on a “step-by-step” basis.

“It would be a step too far to allow you your liberty today,” the sheriff told Gibson.

The case will call again on 25th November.


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