AN arrest warrant was issued at Ballymena Magistrates Court on December 6 for Kelly Louise McKee, who has over 150 convictions, after she failed to appear in relation to stealing from Sainsbury’s in the town.
The defendant (26), of Princes Street, was charged with a technical burglary on September 27 this year as she had been previously barred from the store.
She previously pleaded guilty but failed to turn up at court on Thursday for her latest appearance.
On September 28 this year when she first appeared in court in relation to the matter the frequent shoplifter was initially remanded in custody after a judge said the only other way to try to stop her offending would be to ban her from every shop in Northern Ireland.
McKee had pleaded guilty to stealing £137 worth of goods from Sainsbury’s in Ballymena, a shop she was barred from entering since 2016.
She left the store without paying for goods and was detained outside by security staff.
McKee told police she was going to keep some of the goods and sell others to get money.
At the September court, a defence solicitor said his client was unaware she was barred from Sainsbury’s and said she had found an empty Sainsbury’s bag in Ballymena town centre and “on impulse” had then gone to the store.
He said McKee received assistance from an addiction unit in Ballymena and saw a counsellor on a weekly basis but drugs “still have a significant effect on her life”.
The defence solicitor had said if she was put in prison it would put McKee “back to square one” regarding her addiction battle.
He had said she came from a troubled background and was very well known to police in Ballymena.
The lawyer had said: “Everybody in her family bar her brother who has a disability has been before the courts for similar offences”.
The solicitor said Princes Street was near Ballymena Police Station and said McKee could sign there each day.
Deputy District Judge Paul Conway told the September court the defendant had received a number of prison sentences in the past and in the summer she was then given Probation at the Crown Court in connection with a four day spending spree with another person’s bank card.
Judge Conway said the Crown Court had given the defendant a chance but yet within eight weeks she had re-offended.
He said he could not see any bail conditions which would alleviate concerns.
The judge had said he could have released her and banned her from “every single shop in Northern Ireland” but said he couldn’t do that.
The judge said he liked to try to rehabilitate defendants rather then send them to prison but said McKee had been given a chance previously and it had been “thrown back in the court’s face”.
He said, at September’s court, remanding McKee in custody might set her back personally but he had to protect the public and businesses from her offending given her criminal record.