Man spared jail after stealing more than £4,000 worth of iPads from primary schools

PUBLISHED: 07:00 28 December 2017

North Somerset Courthouse.

North Somerset Courthouse.

Archant

A Weston-super-Mare man has been told he is ‘very lucky’ to have been spared jail after stealing more than £4,000 worth of iPads from two schools.

Lee Porter, of Alfred Street, appeared at North Somerset Courthouse on December 20 for sentencing after pleading guilty to two counts of burglary.

Porter, aged 39, was hired as a cleaner at Herons’ Moor Community Primary School and Baytree School, a special needs school in Worle, when he committed the crimes.

The court heard how Porter stole an Apple iPad Mini, worth £198, from a classroom at Baytree on November 6 and sold it to a friend.

Robert Fry, who bought the device for £75, was using it when he discovered an email account for the school and confronted the defendant.

Porter was then spotted at Herons’ Moor between November 23-27 outside of his usual working hours by staff who described his demeanour as ‘not quite right’.

Rebecca Pearce, prosecuting, said: “The iPads were stored in two cupboards on the first floor of the building. They were not locked away given the level of trust among staff.

“Between these two dates, 15 iPads were taken from the classrooms and there were no signs of a break-in and only some were missing, meaning the selection had been random.”

Mr Fry returned the iPad Mini to staff at Baytree, and Porter was arrested by police, who found a second iPad at his home. He had stolen 16 devices from the two schools, worth £4,198.

Magistrate Tina Symons said: “You are a very lucky man Mr Porter as we were considering sending you to prison for what you did to schools which are struggling with money.

“You were in a position of responsibility and the school trusted you. These were two separate events and you went in there knowing what you were going to do.”

David Bird, mitigating, told the court of Porter’s struggles with substance abuse.

He said: “All sense of morality and responsibility goes out the window when need your next fix.

“He has started making positive steps and has just been accepted into a dry house.”

Porter was handed an 18-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months. He must also complete a six-month drug rehabilitation course and pay £500 compensation to the schools.

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