A 61-year-old heroin addict with more than 320 convictions has been jailed for ten months for a shoplifting spree in which he stole items like steak to sell on to get money for drugs, Ballymena Magistrates Court was told.
Noel Campbell, with various addresses including Ballymena and Ballycastle on his charge sheets, appeared via video link from prison.
He was being sentenced for a string of shoplifting.
On February 1 this year Campbell entered Poundland with a large carrier bag.
He walked through the store lifting perishable items into a basket and then transferred them into the bag and left making no attempt to pay.
On March 2 this year at Home Bargains in Larne he stole 57 items of deordorant worth £110 and ran off after being noticed by staff but was identified on CCTV.
In May police received a report from Robinson’s supermarket in Ballymena that Campbell failed to pay for an item of fruit and a pastry from the deli.
On Sept 25 at Centra at Ballymena Road, Antrim, Campbell selected steaks and roasts worth £53 and made off.
On October 11 at Coop on Ballymena’s Broughshane Street he stole steaks worth £100.
On October 20 staff at the same shop became aware of Campbell but he stole £70 worth of meat products.
On November 5 police stopped him at Tesco.
Staff said a male had just left the store with a trolley full of goods worth over £300.
Police had identified a male matching his description pushing a trolley at the car park and he was detained after a short foot pursuit.
Defence barrister Neil Moore said the defendant had an “invidious criminal record” which spanned the majority of his life.
The lawyer said he had represented Campbell for many years but “genuinely never thought” the defendant would be a heroin addict at the age of 61.
The court heard the defendant had other drug mis-use in the past.
Mr Moore said it appears that due to his addiction of Campbell’s children to “what is a particularly pernicious drug” that the defendant had fallen into a similar addiction.
The lawyer said the defendant was stealing “to sell those items to feed a habit”.
Unless that habit was going to be dealt with the defendant would be in and out of prison, said Mr Moore.
The court heard the defendant has further scheduled court appearances on December 14 and December 17.
Mr Moore said before that there was an opportunity for Probation intervention.
The lawyer accepted Campbell had been involved in “an ongoing campaign” of shoplifting against shopkeepers but added: “He has three weeks to prove himself”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick told the defendant he was in breach of suspended sentences and had an “appalling” criminal record of 321 previous convictions.
The judge said: “If I thought there was any glimmer of hope of you being able to address your addiction to drugs then I may have been prepared to take a chance, however unfortunately, I don’t see any light at the end of this tunnel. This is a deep-rooted situation.
“I think the risks of you re-offending are just too high. My view, rightly or wrongly, is that you would just go out and re-offend”.
Campbell was jailed for ten months and had bail fixed for appeal.
However, the judge said the defendant could not get out of custody pending appeal because the risk of further offences was too high.