Stranraer Sheriff Court

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SHERIFF Kenneth Robb told a 39-year-old woman who was found guilty of claiming benefits she wasn’t entitled to she had “breached” the trust put in her when she appeared for sentencing at the court in Stranraer on Tuesday.

Catherine Longridge, 6 Boyach Terrace, Isle of Whithorn, pled guilty at an earlier diet to claiming a carers allowance from the department of works and pensions when her work at a local hotel put her earning in excess of the specified limits.

Defending, lawyer Monique Nicholson told the court that the accused had not read a letter which informed her of the change in her circumstances regarding claiming benefits. Due to various family and heath problems, Miss Nicholson said her client’s failure to inform the authorities was “an oversight rather than a formulated plan” and that Longridge had “buried her head in the sand over this”.

Sentencing, Sheriff Robb told the accused that when a person is awarded benefits they are receiving tax payers money and have a responsibility not to continue to claim when ineligible. He added that although the accused had paid some of the money back she “did not seem to be particularly contrite”.

He ordered her to complete a community service order of 180 hours.

A WHITHORN woman appeared at Stranraer Sheriff Court on Tuesday this week to plead not guilty to assault.

Michaela Hart, 20, 130 George Street, appeared in the dock to deny punching Denise Malone on the face in George Street on July 4 last year causing her to fall to the ground.

The case will be called again next week.

A TRIAL date of August 31 was set for a Minnigaff woman who is accused of behaving in a threatening and abusive manner towards police officers.

It is alleged that Catherine Watkins, 36, of 19 McGregor Drive, shouted and swore at the officers at her home on January 3 this year. She is also charged with allegedly behaving in an aggressive manner in a marked police car during a journey between McGregor Drive and Stranraer Police Station when she referred to the officers in abusive terms and threatened them with violence.

A STRANRAER man who admitted behaving in a threatening manner at his home address in April was given a community pay back order of 80 hours on Tuesday at the town’s sheriff court.

Kenneth Gladstone, 35, of 7 Craiglea Avenue, returned to the court for sentencing after pleading guilty at an earlier diet to behaving in an abusive manner, shouting and swearing and refusing to leave his home on April 8.

A DRUNKEN slap landed a Stranraer couple in custody for the weekend and cost then £100 each in files.

Raymond Allan 61, and Mary McGeachie, 58, both of 5 Moore Field, appeared in the dock on Tuesday morning to plead guilty to behaving in an abusive manner and striking each other on April 30 at their home address.

Depute Procurator Fiscal Gemma Hynd told the court that this was a domestic incident between two people who had been in a relationship for a number of years. She said the couple had been socialising with McGeachie’s sister and a large quantity of alcohol had been consumed. The first accused had slapped the the second accused and she had slapped him back. The incident accelerated to the point where the police became involved.

In mitigation, agent Jocelyn Aitken, representing Allan, told the court that this was an isolated incident caused by too much drink and that the couple had talked things through before the police arrived as they were “shocked” at what had just happened.

Representing McGeachie solicitor Margo Nichol asked for a line to be drawn under the drink fuelled incident.

Sentencing, Sheriff Kenneth Robb told the couple that slapping each other was “unacceptable”.