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Man who stole safe from Wick café is jailed for 16 months

By Court Reporter

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A police vehicle at the scene of the break-in at Wicker's World on March 13. Picture: DGS
A police vehicle at the scene of the break-in at Wicker's World on March 13. Picture: DGS

A 37-year-old man who broke into a Wick café and stole a safe containing £5000 was jailed for 16 months at Inverness Sheriff Court today.

Guy Whitelaw, of Elgin, was criticised by Sheriff Eilidh Macdonald for "causing significant distress and financial hardship to the family business, Wicker's World, particularly in this time of lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak".

She told Whitelaw, also known as McCall, that he had a lengthy record of offending for offences analogous to the one he faced and there was no alternative to a prison sentence.

The Sheriff had rejected a plea by defence solicitor Laura-Jane McFarlane for a drug treatment and testing order assessment for her client, whose address was given as Inverness Prison.

Ms McFarlane said: "His record is littered with crimes of dishonesty and drugs offences as he has had a drug addiction for 16 years, terms of imprisonment, but never a treatment assessment.

"He feels he is now getting too old for this and wants to get help to prevent this happening again. He moved to Wick to get away from the drug scene in Elgin but he went off the rails when his brother overdosed.

"He knows he shouldn't have done what he did and he doesn't want to live his life like this going in and out of jail any longer."

The court was told that Whitelaw had taken alcohol and drugs before committing the offence of theft by housebreaking into the café at Wick harbour on March 13, which he admitted.

Fiscal depute Iain Gray said the break-in was recorded on CCTV and Whitelaw could be seen trying to kick the door open. A second man who was with him broke a window and the pair gained entry through it.

The video showed Whitelaw carrying out the safe at 2.33am and both men walked towards the Black Stairs.

Mr Gray went on: "At 0526 both men were traced and arrested. Whitelaw was in possession of £500.

"The following morning a resident in Lower Dunbar Street, which is near the Black Stairs, went to put out some rubbish and found the stolen safe. Inside his garage he also found Wicker's World chequebooks, receipts and other paperwork.

"The remaining £4500 has not been recovered."

Whitelaw's sentence was backdated to March 16 when he was remanded in custody.

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