Church theft woman avoids prison sentence
A woman who stole from a church which supported her recovery from drug addiction has been spared jail. Margaret Sargent, 44, of Flat 5, Dalintober House, Campbeltown, pleaded guilty in November to stealing a money box containing £358.22, a mobile phone, a jar of coffee and two boxes of table tennis balls from Campbeltown’s Free Church on October 23. Last month, the court heard that, since 2014, Sargent, who has a record of previous convictions, has attended the Free Church where she was welcomed and given help and guidance. Trust was built and eventually Sargent was given access to the George Street building. Officers, who found a pink stick-on fingernail lying where the money had been, searched Sargent’s house because they knew she had access to the church. They found four other pink stick-on nails in Sargent’s house. Her overall position was that she stole the items as she had a drug debt to pay. The church’s minister and an elder were in court to support Sargent as she was sentenced. Defence agent Stephen MacSporran said: ‘It has caused her considerable shame and she has shown remorse. ‘She realises she has broken the trust of those who tried to help her.’ Addressing Sargent, Sheriff Patrick Hughes said: ‘This money was at the church as a symbol of generosity, to help others, to improve the lives of others. ‘Your behaviour was utterly selfish and mean-spirited.’ As a direct alternative to custody, Sheriff Hughes ordered Sargent to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work within a year, remaining under the supervision of the social work department during that time. Sargent was also placed on a tag for four months and must remain in her house from 7pm until 7am. Sheriff Hughes added that if there is any breach of the orders, Sargent will be sent to prison.