A phantom whisky drinker who broke into a stranger’s home to help himself to several nips was caught when she set up secret surveillance to crack the mystery. Businesswoman Vikki Banks set up the camera app after being puzzled by the regular disappearance of whisky from a bottle sitting in her front room. And she was left stunned to find it was thirsty handyman James Reid who had been breaking in and out of her house to help himself to the scotch. Reid was ordered to carry out 50 hours unpaid work as part of a community payback order. The court heard how Reid took gulps of whisky and then topped up the bottle with water to cover his tracks before leaving Miss Banks’ home - and locking the door behind him. Reid had discovered a house key hidden under a stone outside the property and had used it to enter Miss Banks’ home on a number of occasions to quench his thirst.
But he was finally caught when she turned detective and set up a camera system linked to a hi-tech phone app which alerted her to movement in her home.
The court was told previously that Reid was identified from the footage and freely admitted he had been using Miss Banks’ home as an impromptu bar.
Reid was initially ordered to carry out 90 hours unpaid work as part of a community payback order and fined £30.
Perth Sheriff Court was told that he admitted breaching the original order by failing to turn up for work and the new order was imposed.
Fiscal depute Bill Kermode said the victim suspected someone had been in her house because a bottle of Famous Grouse she kept on the window sill had been watered down.
“She suspected someone had drunk some and then topped it up,” he said.
“As a result she installed a camera system that sends automatic email notifications when it detects movement. She left the house at 7.47am, checking the back door was locked. At 10.23am she got an email alert telling her there was motion at the back door.
The video showed the back door was closed and there was audio of someone knocking at the back door. There was a further notification at 10.57am and she viewed the video.
She saw the accused walking out of the lounge into the kitchen. At 11am another notification showed him leaving and pulling the back door shut.
She returned to the house and discovered the back door was locked. On entering the kitchen she noticed the top of the whisky was loose and the level had dropped by an inch since she last looked.
She searched the house and nothing else was missing, despite there being money lying around.”
Reid, 54, Fordie Mains Farm, Perth, admitted breaking into the house in Gowan Brae, Blairgowrie, on 9 February last year and stealing whisky and wine. The Crown accepted his not guilty plea to a similar offence on 2 February.
An estate worker bumped into a clearly intoxicated Reid and asked him what he was doing to be told he was selling firewood - even though he had none left.
Reid was also spoken to by the police and let go after telling them he lived nearby. They returned to arrest him after recognising him when they viewed the video.
The court was told that on his second visit to the house Reid had taken a small bottle of Talisker and a bottle of wine. It was found half drunk on his sofa.
He told police: “I admit going into the house. It’s because I’m an alcoholic.” Mr Kermode added: “He stated he got into the property with a key taken from below a stone, and that he left it there when he left.”