A THIEF helped himself to a pensioner’s suitcase at Sunderland Central Station.
Jobless dad-of-two Lee Rogan was arrested at his house in Pallion after images from the station’s CCTV footage were published in the Echo.
Prosecutor Paul Anderson told Sunderland Magistrates’ Court that 72-year-old Megan Blacklock was waiting for the 8.42am train to London when Rogan struck.
She was in the waiting room when there was an announcement to say that the train was running about 30 minutes late.
“She started speaking to a couple of other passengers, and just before the train arrived, she went out on to the platform,” Mr Anderson said. “Perhaps, not surprisingly, there was a further announcement saying the train was further delayed.
“She spoke to the couple and said: ‘do you mind keeping an eye on my suitcase while I use the facilities upstairs?’”
But the Grand Central service arrived and left before Mrs Blacklock returned, so the couple handed her luggage to the station manager, who returned it to the waiting room.
Rogan, 30, of Dene Street, picked up the case and caught a Metro to Millfield, before throwing it away when he realised it contained just clothes and toiletries. The case and its contents, worth £420, were never recovered.
He admitted one charge of theft before magistrates on January 30, and the case was adjourned for reports.
In a statement read out to the court, semi-retired Mrs Blacklock said she had suffered a sleepless night after the theft.
“I was panicking and could not believe it,” she said.
“I felt sick to the pit of my stomach, and I did not know what to do.
“I felt very stressed, and I had hardly any sleep the night after it happened.”
Defence solicitor Susan Grey said Rogan, who has a criminal record for stealing cars, did not realise the case belonged to a pensioner. She said: “If he had thought more thoroughly, he could have realised there could be an elderly victim.
“He very much regrets the offence.”
Mrs Grey added: “Details of the offence were in the local press, and all his friends and family know that an elderly person’s suitcase was taken by him, so he has that weighing heavily on his conscience.
“This is a young man who has the prospect of turning a corner on whatever order you make today, and we hope he will not be troubling the courts again.”
Magistrates ordered Rogan pay £420 compensation to his victim, a £60 victim surcharge and carry out 100 hours of community service.