Blind man charged with shoplifting from Walmart claims he was not 'physically capable' of the crime
A blind man was found guilty of shoplifting from Walmart, despite his claim that the crime was the accidental result of an inaccessible checkout machine.
Andrew Airey, 39, was found guilty of two shoplifting counts this week, for stealing a can of corned beef hash and a bath towel, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports.
The charges stemmed from a series of incidents in the summer of 2018, during which Airey, who is legally blind, allegedly bagged several items without scanning or paying for them. He was arrested after the final instance, on July 3, after authorities said he walked out of the store with 37 items — valued at almost $148 — that he had not purchased.
During Airey's trial, which began last month, the 39-year-old consistently claimed that he did not mean to steal anything. His attorney, Alfred Catalfo, said his client was "perhaps the least likely person to even be capable of committing an act of willful concealment" — instead blaming the self-checkout machines used at Walmart stores.
Catalfo stated in court that Airey did not receive sufficient audio prompts while completing his checkout and that the confusion on July 3 resulted in him receiving three separate receipts, all of which were checked by Walmart employees before he left.
"Our criminal code states that a person is not guilty of an offense unless he commits a voluntary act, or the voluntary omission of an act, of which he is physically capable," Catalfo said. "There was no intent here nor is Mr. Airey physically capable of committing this offense."
Walmart, on the other hand, said it acted in "good faith" when reporting the alleged crimes to law enforcement. Police said they believed there were "far too many mis-scans" for Airey's unpaid items to simply be a mistake.
Three other misdemeanor shoplifting charges — for a frozen pizza, some toothbrushes and a $2.74 package of oyster crackers — were dismissed by the court. Airey will now face a sentencing hearing on Dec. 10.