A JOHNSTONE man warned he faced jail if he failed to pay back £4,000 he stole from a friend has gone unpunished despite handing over less than a quarter of what he owed.

Michael Blane, 50, stole the bank card of his Kilbarchan victim and, over a two-and-a-half-month period, took £3,600 from the account in 2014.

When it emerged the money was missing the police arrested Blane and charged him over the incident, leading to him appearing in the dock at Paisley Sheriff Court.

In August 2015 he pleaded guilty to stealing the bank card and the money, striking a deal with prosecutors which saw the amount he stole reduced from £5,923.10 to £3,600.

Sentence was deferred so he could be assessed by social workers and he returned to the dock in September 2015.

At the time, defence solicitor Kevin Brady asked for mercy for Blane, saying jailing him would have a catastrophic effect on his family.

After hearing that Blane and his wife would only be able to pay £100-a-month towards compensation, which would be a total of £1,800 as 18 months is the maximum time period that can be allowed for compensation to be paid, Sheriff McCartney spared him jail.

He told Blane he would have to make arrangements to pay the full £3,600 within 18 months and warned him he faced “a substantial period of imprisonment” if he failed to do so.

He also imposed a 300 hour community payback order.

But Blane only handed over £900 – and found himself back in the dock this week over his failure to pay off the compensation.

Defence solicitor Terry Gallanagh said Blane had only paid back a quarter of the sum he was supposed to as he had lost his job, but would be able to pay the money back at a rate of £10-per-week if given the chance.

But Sheriff McCartney ruled he could deal with the case without Blane having to pay back the money he was ordered to some 18 months ago.

He said: “I think it’s fair to say, normally, if compensation has not been paid in accordance with a community payback order which was imposed as a direct alternative to prison, that what happens is that the [community payback] order is revoked and a prison sentence is imposed.

“I am not going to do that in respect of you because I do accept and have a recognition that in every other respect you have complied with the order.

“It’s clear to me you have endeavoured to comply with the order.”

Rather than imposing another compensation order for the outstanding balance, or revoking the structured punishment and sentencing him for it, Sheriff McCartney opted to let Blane leave court unpunished.

He said: “I have decided, in all the circumstances, simply to revoke the compensation element at this stage, beyond the £900 already paid.”