Heroin addict took money from elderly neighbour to fund habit

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A heroin addict who stole money from his 91-year old neighbour over a 22-month period was jailed on Thursday for the “mean and nasty” offence.

Sending Marcin Wisniewski to prison for 10 months, Judge Patricia Smyth addressed prison staff at Belfast Crown Court, telling them: “He will require immediate medical attention upon his detention and I don’t want any slippage on that, given the extent and nature of his drug addiction.”

During the sentencing, it was revealed that Wisniewski’s offending came to light following concerns raised by the pensioner’s family and his bank. He has since passed away.

The 36-year old Polish national, from Avoniel Street in Belfast, pleaded guilty to a single count of theft, and admitted stealing around £6,000 from his elderly neighbour between February 2015 to November 2016.

Describing the elderly victim as “vulnerable”, Crown prosecutor Jenkins said Wisniewski first asked to borrow money from the pensioner in February 2015. This continued for almost two years, the amounts were usually between £40 and £80, and Wisniewski never made any repayments.

Mr Jenkins said the pensioner’s family became aware he was giving Wisniewski money in June 2016, and the man’s bank also contacted his relatives to express concerns.

Police spoke to Wisniewski in August 2016 and warned him to stop asking his neighbour for money but he refused. Further cash withdrawals were made and Wisniewski was arrested last December.

During interview, Wisniewski told police he needed the cash to fund his heroin addiction. He also told police he believed the total amount was around £2,000, and that he intended to pay it back.

The prosecutor said Wisniewski had come to Northern Ireland from Poland in 2014, and he had amassed seven criminal convictions.

Defence barrister Con O’Neill described Wisniewski as a “chronic heroin abuser” who took the money to buy drugs. He said Wisniewski had “taken advantage of the kindness of a neighbour”.

Describing Wisniewski’s offending as “mean and nasty”, Judge Smyth said it was clear Wisniewski never intended to pay back any of the money he took.