Caol man pleads guilty to stealing handbag

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Packaging factory worker Valentin Surunovs has admitted stealing a woman’s handbag and its contents from Fort William Health Centre earlier this year.

Surunovs, who lives at Torlundy Road, Caol, pleaded guilty to the theft on January 15 when he appeared at Fort William Sheriff Court on Tuesday.

The court heard that the 38-year-old was attending a medical appointment and upon leaving the building he picked up a handbag that was lying on the floor. Surunovs then went outside to get on his bike but, after realising what he was doing, returned to the health centre with the bag.

The court heard from Procurator Fiscal Martina Eastwood that Surunovs then handed it back to the woman and said: ‘I had a moment, I have put it back. I have not taken anything, you can check.’

Defence solicitor Hamish Melrose told the court that Surunovs, who accepts he had a drug problem at the time, was informed he had to wait two weeks to get medical treatment. As a result, Mr Melrose said, Surunovs left his appointment ‘looking for a place to get money to buy drugs to last him’, at which point he stole the handbag.

The owner of the bag later discovered that her car key was still missing, something which Surunovs denied stealing when questioned by the police. Two days after the initial incident he returned with police to the wall where he had kept his bike at the health centre and they found the car key lying on the ground.

‘The key had fallen out of the bag and he had not realised,’ added Mr Melrose.

Sheriff Eilidh MacDonald deferred sentencing and ordered Surunovs to be of good behaviour for three months. He is to appear at Fort William Sheriff Court again in August.