Ex-offender’s new life is far removed from his old one

REMOVAL BUSINESS ... Craig Merrigan has pledged to stay clear of trouble in future.
REMOVAL BUSINESS ... Craig Merrigan has pledged to stay clear of trouble in future.

A SELF-styled reformed character “got off his backside” to launch his own business after pledging to put his previous offending behind him, a court heard.

Craig Merrigan, 27, is not proud of some of the actions he was responsible for as a younger man.

But seven months ago he decided “enough was enough” and started his own business, B-Gone Removals, a house removal and rubbish collection service.

Business has been booming but his workload led to a conflict with Northumbria Probation Service after he was sentenced to a nine-month supervision order in December last year for an offence of causing fear or provocation of violence.

He appeared at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday on a charge of failing to comply with the requirements of a community order, where he blamed his heavy workload on failure to attend some supervision appointments.

An application was made for the order to be revoked and an electronically monitored curfew imposed instead – because of what the probation service called Merrigan’s “nonchalance” towards the appointments.

But his solicitor, Paul Kennedy, successfully argued the order could be discharged by a financial penalty instead.

He said: “The offence for which he was convicted dates from August 17 last year and he has not been back before the courts for another offence since and has had no involvement with the police whatsoever.

“He has gone and taken himself off his backside and set up his own business – he doesn’t want to live off benefits.

“He has to be flexible to customers. He doesn’t want a reputation for being unreliable. He didn’t want to turn jobs down and tried to re-arrange appointments around his work, but he could not always be accommodated. That’s no criticism whatsover of the probation service, they are short-staffed.”

Merrigan, of Lilburn Close, East Boldon, was ordered to pay a £500 fine.

Speaking after the case, he said: “Basically I decided that I was sick of all the hassle, of all the trouble, and I started the business and it’s going well.

“I went to the probation service and said they might as well breach me because they could not work around me, and I could not work around them.

“Now I just want to get on with my life, keep working and stay clear of trouble.”

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