Cathair Hughes had been caught on video stealing the scooter in Ballygawley, tying it to the back of his 4X4 vehicle and then driving off with the scooter dragging along country roads
Co Tyrone man Cathair Hughes pleaded guilty to stealing the mobility scooter this week having dragged the case out for over a year.
As reported in this paper last year, Hughes had been caught on video stealing the scooter in Ballygawley, tying to the back of his 4X4 vehicle and then driving off with the scooter dragging along country roads.
But, just as a contest hearing was just about to start at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court, Hughes admitted his guilt and furthermore it emerged that the 23-year-old, from Blackbog Road, Greencastle, had already paid compensation for the mobility scooter which had to be destroyed.
Hughes is to be sentenced at a later date but it remains to be explained why he had continued to deny his involvement when he had already paid his elderly victim £570 compensation to replace the battered mobility scooter.
Hughes also admitted a charge of careless driving, reduced from dangerous driving by the Prosecution Service, and driving while using a hand-held mobile phone.
Earlier this year lawyers representing Hughes claimed video footage of the shocking incident is unclear and doesn’t identify the vehicle used to take the mobility scooter on a joyride.
Eyebrows were raised when it was claimed at Dungannon Magistrates’ Court earlier this year that the video footage was not sharp enough to identify the car the disability device had been attached to with a tow rope.
Footage seen by this paper, from the same video taken on a mobile phone, appeared to be extremely clear and we found two photographs of a similar car with the same vehicle registration on the defendant’s Facebook page.
The local community were extremely upset at what happened as the elderly man who owned the scooter is well respected.
In video footage of the incident, seen by the Sunday World, the number plate is clearly visible.
The voice of a female in a car nearby, where the footage is being recorded, can be heard to say, “Are they stealing that scooter?” to which a male replies, “Um hum” indicating in that’s exactly what was happening.
The man tying the scooter to the car is wearing a grey sports top with a green band and the number ‘2’ on the back, and jeans.
He then gets into the driver seat and drives off and out of view towing the scooter.
The vehicle was then seen to pull to the side of the road, where the scooter was unattached before it was pushed over as the men could be heard laughing.
A PSNI spokesman said at the time the scooter was "found damaged beyond repair" before adding "This was obviously a very distressing ordeal for the victim".
At the time SDLP councillor, Sharon McAleer branded what had happened "immature and reckless".
"The whole community was disgusted by the act," she said.
"The man is well got. He is an older member of the community and doesn't do anyone any harm. People are very annoyed for him.
"That anyone would target anyone with a disability, carry out any action like that. It was just a terrible act."
But this week defence barrister Fintan McAleer told the court that Hughes paid compensation of £570 to the victim the day after the incident. He requested that the defendant be sentenced 'now' at the court sitting.
However, District judge Stephen Keown ordered a pre-sentence report be compiled.
He said, “This is a nasty offence. It is a serious matter”.
Hughes will appear back before the court for sentencing on January 11.