Op­por­tunist thief took bike he found out­side pub af­ter gang stole it

Llanelli Star - - LETTERS - Ian Lewis 07790 591150 [email protected]­line.co.uk

A BI­CY­CLE be­long­ing to a man with Down’s syn­drome was taken by an op­por­tunist thief af­ter it was aban­doned by a gang of youths who stole it hours ear­lier.

The bike be­longed to Gareth McKib­bin, of Burry Port. On March 13 last year, he was al­legedly as­saulted out­side the Co-op su­per­mar­ket and his bike taken from him. While CCTV from out­side the su­per­mar­ket was checked, none of the cul­prits were tracked down.

The theft shocked the com­mu­nity with peo­ple ral­ly­ing around Gareth and of­fer­ing to buy him a new bike – but he wanted his bike back.

It was re­cov­ered af­ter it emerged another teenager – not connected with its theft or al­leged as­sault on Mr McKib­bin – took it home af­ter finding it propped up out­side the Cor­nish Arms pub in the town some hours later. Cayo Rees, of Min y Mor, Llanelli de­cided to take the bike and ride it to the rail­way sta­tion and then took it home.

Po­lice tracked him down and ar­rested him.

Af­ter the bike was re­turned to Gareth, staff at Car­marthen’s Hal­fords store gave him a new red bike along with ac­ces­sories.

Rees, aged 19, ad­mit­ted the theft when he ap­peared at Llanelli Mag­is­trates’ Court on April 11.

Pros­e­cu­tor Sian Vaughan said: “An in­di­vid­ual was as­saulted who was vul­ner­a­ble and had Down’s syn­drome. It was un­pleas­ant and re­sulted in the bike being taken, the chain being pulled off and this caused dis­tress to the vic­tim.

“CCTV was viewed but un­able to iden­tify the youths in­volved. The de­fen­dant how­ever, found the bike and re­cov­ered it from out­side the Cor­nish Arms pub. He thought it was aban­doned and took it home.”

A vic­tim im­pact state­ment from the vic­tim’s mother, Eira, said: “Gareth’s bike was his life­line, he re­lies on it to­tally. Those cul­prits took away his in­de­pen­dence, how do I ex­plain that to Gareth? That bike was like his friend.”

Mrs Vaughan added: “The bike was found at Rees’ ad­dress and re­turned to Gareth 24 hours later.” De­fence so­lic­i­tor John Allchurch said Rees had no knowledge of the bike hav­ing been stolen or be­long­ing to a vul­ner­a­ble per­son.

He said: “My client is 19 years of age and lives with his par­ents. He had gone to Burry Port that day to so­cialise with friends.

“Af­ter play­ing foot­ball he went to the Co-op to buy a drink and saw the bike out­side the Cor­nish Arms.

“He took the bike, be­liev­ing it to be aban­doned, and rode it to the train sta­tion. He took the bike back to his home in Llanelli and that is when po­lice re­cov­ered it from him. He is bit­terly dis­ap­pointed to be in court on a theft charge.

“The fact that it be­loned to a vul­ner­a­ble man, the de­fen­dant wasn’t to know that at the time. Also he had no in­volve­ment or knowledge of the in­ci­dent in­volv­ing the bike being taken from Mr McKib­bin.”

Dis­trict Judge Christo­pher James, in sen­tenc­ing, said: “I am sen­tenc­ing you strictly on the ba­sis of theft by finding, on the ba­sis that you have said you played no part in the steal­ing the bike in the man­ner that it was ini­tially – from a vul­ner­a­ble man.

“This was an op­por­tunist theft in that you took it from out­side a premises hav­ing been left there. You took it for your own ben­e­fit.”

Rees was fined £120 for the theft and told to pay £85 court costs and a £30 vic­tim sur­charge.

Find out more on­line at... waleson­line.co.uk/ car­marthen

Gareth McKib­bin has been re­united with his bike, which was taken from out­side a pub in Burry Port.

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