A young Rathfriland man who has been in custody since July facing theft charges, has been told by a Judge that he is prepared to give him a chance.
Robert Cochrane from Ulster Avenue, was conditionally discharged for two years, with a stern warning that if his behaviour continued, he could end up back behind bars.
Cochrane (18) faced charges of attempting to steal Buckfast wine, and theft of items including a pair of socks, an air freshener and lightbulbs - all from Supervalu, Rathfriland.
The court heard how Social Services are helping Cochrane and it is hoped they will find him accommodation.
However, Cochrane’s father told the court that if Housing Executive accommodation was not available, he would be returning to the family home.
A PPS prosecutor explained how on 16 July at 5.30pm, police were called to Supervalu after the manager reported that Cochrane had made off without paying for air freshener and light bulbs.
Staff were able to recognise him from previous incidents, heard the court.
Staff told police that the previous day he had attempted to steal Buckfast, but had set it down on the floor of the shop when challenged and left the premises.
Further CCTV dating back to last December showed Cochrane remove a pair of socks from a stand and put them down his trousers.
When police caught up with him he apologised and said he was not on his medication.
He admitted lifting the air freshener and lighbulbs but said he left the light bulbs at the store.
Solicitor Mr Boyle said this was his client’s first appearance at adult court.
He said Cochrane had been brought to the attention of Social Services last December as he had been having “issues.”
“He has finally been diagnosed with Asperger’s and that diagnosis has been a long time coming.”
District Judge Mr Copeland said, “I have no desire to see him commence a criminal career.
“There is some concern about his well being and the company he is keeping. However he is 18 and there are consequences.”
He added, “I don’t want to see you again.”