Opportunist thief took bike he found outside pub after gang stole it
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.
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Gareth McKibbin has been reunited with his bike, which was taken from outside a pub in Burry Port.