Ballymoney man in court on begging charge


A Ballymoney man, believed to be the only person in recent years to be convicted of begging on Northern Ireland’s streets, was back in court on Monday for the same offence after he forced a woman passer-by into handing over £10.

60-year-old Alex Getty from Ballymoney pleaded guilty at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday to a charge of begging at the town’s Railway Place on May 29 this year.

A frightened woman handed over £10 to him because she felt afraid after he blocked her way demanding money, the court heard.

A prosecutor said Getty, of Trinity Drive, asked a woman at Railway Place for £10 or £20 and when he blocked her path the woman handed over £10 because she felt afraid.

The woman was described as “visibly upset”.

Getty told police he has asked the woman for “a lend of 50p” which he claimed he would return at a later date.

A defence solicitor said his client has “addiction issues”.

Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes adjourned sentencing in the case until July and told Getty that because of his previous convictions whoever sentences him will have to “seriously consider” sending him to jail.

Getty was due to be released on his own bail of £500 with a condition that he should not pester members of the public.

In 2012, Getty became one of the only people in recent years to be convicted of begging in Northern Ireland.

At that time a defence lawyer described Getty as “a sad case” who has considerable difficulties with alcohol.

Getty told that court he had previously been a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment but had not worked for a number of years.

The defence lawyer said in the 2012 case that Getty “was subjected to an attack and thereafter had problems”.