Maintenance man stole £2,500 worth of designer watches at student accommodation

Newcastle Crown Court.Newcastle Crown Court.
Newcastle Crown Court.
The 49 year old had access to student rooms and living quarters at the site through his role.

A student accommodation maintenance man stole designer watches when he burgled residents' rooms while they were away.

James McGourley took a £1,500 Tag Heuer and a £1,000 Hamilton during separate break-ins at student flats at Marshall Court Newcastle, this summer.

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He then sold the high-value timepieces at Cash Converters for a few hundred pounds.

The 49-year-old was employed by Abodos, which provides accommodation for the city's universities, and had access to student rooms and living quarters at the site through his role.

Prosecutor Shada Mellor told Newcastle Crown Court McGourley started working for the firm in August last year.

Between June 16 and June 23 this year, a student at the accommodation went home to Leeds to visit family and McGourley broke in to his flat and took his Tag Heuer watch while he was gone.

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Miss Mellor said: "He had received that as a gift from his parents for his 18th birthday."

The following month another resident travelled to Greece to see her family and McGourley took her £1,000 Hamilton watch while she was away.

McGourley also took six power tools belonging to the company, which he left in August this year "without warning". The court heard he started working at another accommodation provider, called IQ, and stole £200 of copper piping belonging to a contractor while he was there.

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Miss Mellor said investigations revealed McGourley had sold the Tag Heuer at Cash Converters for £400 and got £500 for the Hamilton.

The court heard the owner of the Tag Heuer got his watch back.

When he was arrested, McGourley said: "Sorry, very sorry."

McGourley, of Walsh Avenue, Hebburn, South Tyneside, admitted two charges of burglary and two of theft.

The court heard McGourley served the country in the Argyle and Southern Hylanders and did tours of Northern Ireland, Irag and Afghanistan, which left him with post traumatic stress disorder.

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Ian Hudson, defending, said at the time of the offences McGourley, who served in the forces between the ages of 18 and 32, had a "short term addiction" to gambling.

Mr Hudson said McGourley is in new employment, has a family to support and added: "Custody would totally destroy him."

Judge Robert Adams sentenced him to 15 months, suspended for 12 months, with 160 hours unpaid work and a £1,000 compensation order.

Judge Adams told McGourley: "You are devastated, as you should be, by your fall from grace."