Jail for man who fled from hotel damage

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A man who trashed a Belfast hotel room and fled without paying a £180 bar bill has been sentenced to six months in jail.

Stephen McCleland, 27, was handed a four month term for inflicting damage to fixtures and fittings at Madison’s, and a further two months for stealing £210 worth of food and alcohol from a supermarket a day earlier.

A judge at Belfast Magistrates’ Court told him: “This was shocking behaviour and abuse of the position you were placed in, in taking the hotel room.”

However, he was released on bail pending an appeal against the prison sentence imposed.

McCleland, of College Court Central in the city, booked into Madison’s on Botanic Avenue for a night’s stay on June 2.

He was said to have run up a bill on drinks, snacks and ordering room service while there with another, unidentified man.

Later that night staff at the hotel were alerted to smashing and banging noises coming from one of the rooms, the court heard.

Prosecutors said a night porter who went to investigate was confronted by two men exiting.

When he told them police had been called one of the pair lifted a fire extinguisher, causing the porter to fear he was about to be hit.

Although the men ran from the hotel McCleland was detained at a nearby location.

Damage had been caused to a safe, mirror, crockery, lamp and telephone.

The cost of repairs was not disclosed, but Deputy District Judge Austin Kennedy was informed the room had to remain shut for the following weekend.

With Madison’s said to be fully booked at the time, the closure caused a further loss in trade, the prosecution lawyer added.

It was revealed in court that McClelland has since secured a job as a barman at another hotel.

He pleaded guilty to criminal damage, common assault and making off without payment.

McCleland also admitted a theft from Asda on Belfast’s Shore Road on June 1.

The court heard he left the store without paying for £210.35 worth of food and drink placed in a bag.

Defence counsel Kelly Doherty stressed there had been no physical assault on the porter.

She told the court McClelland originally booked to stay at the hotel with his partner, only for his plans to change when she went into hospital.

Passing sentence, Mr Kennedy said: “Trashing the room in Madison’s Hotel and the altercation with staff thereafter (was) a shocking episode.

As well has jailing McCleland for a total of six months, the judge ordered him to pay £180.95 compensation for the unpaid bar bill.

He then granted an application for the defendant to be released on £500 bail until his appeal hearing.