Jun 22 2011 by Stephen Robertson, Stirling Observer Wednesday
A THIEF who stole a rare book then claimed he had sold it to fund cancer treatment has been jailed after being exposed as a liar.
Sean Cowie (27), had previously admitted stealing the rare first edition of the poems of TS Elliot from a friend in Stirling, sometime between July and October 2008. He later went on to sell it for £4000 to a specialist bookseller down south.
At subsequent court appearances, however, he himself claimed to have suffered from three separate types of cancer and said that he had spent the bulk of the cash on treatment for the illness.
On one of Cowie’s previous appearances, fiscal depute Sonia Kalkat also told the court: “On eight occasions that he has been arrested since January 2009 he has advised custody staff that he suffers from either testicular cancer, breast cancer or bowel cancer.”
But Cowie’s illness story finally collapsed at Stirling Sheriff Court last Thursday as it was revealed that hospitals where he claimed to have had treatment had never even heard of him.
The court heard that police checks with staff at Ross Hall Hospital and the Gartnavel Beatson in Glasgow, and with NHS Forth Valley, where Cowie said that he had treatment, all drew a blank.
Sheriff Wyllie Robertson then asked Cowie: “Does that not astonish you?”
Representing himself in court, Cowie replied: “It does strike me as very odd.” Sticking to his story, though Cowie added that he had documents to back his version of events up, but had been unable to access them as he had been remanded in custody.
After consideration, Sheriff Robertson told Cowie: “I am satisfied on the evidence that I have heard that it is clear beyond any reasonable doubt that you have not been diagnosed with cancer, that there was no treatment undertaken by you and that your evidence to the contrary is a tissue of lies.”
Turning to the book theft itself, Sheriff Robertson continued: “This was an offence involving the theft of a valuable book of the order of £5000.
“I have rejected the motivation that you have explained on ill health and treatment.
“This must have involved an element of pre-meditation.”
Sheriff Robertson then jailed Cowie for six months, backdating the sentence to May 3.