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Man escapes theft conviction

A young man who stole $700 from his girlfriend’s father escaped a theft conviction yesterday but was ordered to pay the money back. Leroy Henderson, of Brunswick Street, Pembroke, admitted stealing the cash from Winston Godwin but claimed he needed the money to pay for diapers and other necessities for his newborn son. Senior Magistrate Archibald Warner dismissed that as “nonsense” and said it didn’t tie in with an account given by Mr Godwin at an earlier hearing, who said Henderson was not supporting the baby. However, Mr Warner did not convict the 23-year-old defendant, instead giving him a 12-month conditional discharge, with probation. The case led to an emotional outburst in court from Henderson’s girlfriend Karen Godwin, who stood up in support of the father of her child. She sobbed as she accused her father of lying in court on the last occasion, adding: “He told me that he’s not going to provide for our son, all that he is going to give [is] a roof over our head. “He called my son ‘it, fat boy’. He wouldn’t call him by his first name. He refused to call him his grandson. This is hurting me. “All my father did for Christmas was buy him a $10 toy. He says he bought him diapers and wipes.” Mr Warner asked her: “Did your father get you pregnant?” Ms Godwin replied not, adding: “My father is a pathological liar. He didn’t buy us nothing.” Mr Warner said: “Did he lie about him [Henderson] stealing money?” Ms Godwin said: “No.” Mr Warner described Henderson’s theft as “systematic”, explaining that he took an ATM card from Mr Godwin’s wallet on January 23 and made several cash withdrawals, amounting to $700. Surveillance footage from the ATM identified Henderson as the culprit and he admitted the offence to police when he attended Hamilton Police Station on February 25. Duty defence counsel Simone Smith-Bean said he was unemployed at the time, needed the money for his child and was remorseful for what he’d done. “He is now employed and gainfully employed,” she said. “He is trying to do what he’s supposed to do as a citizen. He’s apologising for what he’s done. “All we are asking is for the indulgence of the court to give this young man a chance to be a father, be responsible.” Acting Director of Public Prosecutions Carrington Mahoney said there seemed to be “issues of entitlement” going on within the family, but no remorse on Henderson’s part. “He says ‘yes, I stole, but I was justified in stealing’. Is that remorse?” Mr Warner, who had previously ordered a social inquiry report on Henderson, said he must be assessed for a life skills programme and any other suitable rehabilitation scheme. “You must repay the $700 that you stole from Mr Godwin,” he added.