A 37-year- old Elgin man who broke into a Wick cafe and stole a safe containing £5,000 was jailed for 16 months at Inverness Sheriff Court yesterday.
Guy Whitelaw was criticised by Sheriff Eilidh Macdonald for “causing significant distress and financial hardship” to the Wicker’s World cafe, “particularly in this time of lockdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak”.
She told Whitelaw, also known as McCall, that he had a lengthy record and there was no alternative to a prison sentence.
The Sheriff had rejected a plea by defence solicitor Laura-Jane McFarlane for a drug treatment and testing order assessment for her client, whose address was given as Inverness Prison.
Ms McFarlane said: “He feels he is now getting too old for this and wants to get help to prevent this happening again. He moved to Wick to get away from the drug scene in Elgin but he went off the rails when his brother overdosed.
“He knows he shouldn’t have done what he did and he doesn’t want to live his life like this going in and out of jail any longer.”
The court was told that Whitelaw had taken alcohol and drugs before committing the offence of theft by housebreaking into the cafe in the Harbour area of Wick on March 13, which he admitted.
Fiscal depute Iain Gray said that the break-in was recorded on CCTV.
The video showed Whitelaw carrying out the safe at 2.33am and he and another man walked towards the Blackstairs.
Mr Gray went on: “At 0526 both men were traced and arrested at the Blackstairs steps. Whitelaw was in possession of £500.
“The following morning a resident found the stolen safe. Inside his garage he also found Wicker’s World cheque books, receipts and other paperwork.
“The remaining £4,500 has not been recovered.” Mr Gray added.
Whitelaw’s sentence was backdated to March 16 when he was remanded in custody.