Ballymena Court hears heroin addict gave police ‘runaround’ whilst committing shoplifting spree

Gareth McKee

A MAN who gave police the “runaround” whilst committing a shoplifting spree has had bail refused.

The defendant admitted stealing hundreds of pounds worth of goods in a series of shoplifting raids and has been remanded in custody.

The matter has been sent to Antrim Crown Court.

Gareth McKee (26), with an address listed as Lanntara in Ballymena, took items including meat and groceries from shops in areas including Ballymena and north Down.

Ballymena Magistrates Court heard it claimed McKee knew police wanted to speak to him from December 10 last year when he allegedly stole a drill and a ‘beauty box’ from The Range in Ballymena.

A police officer said McKee had gave the PSNI the “runaround” before being arrested on January 19 this year

The officer said the defendant admitted six of the seven thefts he is accused of.

The policeman said McKee is a “priority offender” with 91 previous convictions.

The court heard the defendant appeared at court in Belfast last year for thefts and burglaries and was given six months in jail and six months on licence.

The officer objected to bail saying there was a risk of further offences and a risk he would not appear back in court.

A defence barrister said McKee is a heroin addict but has been taking part in the Buvidal “injection programme” in custody – which aims to help control opiate addictions – and if released he could get that at the Railway Street project.

The lawyer admitted the defendant previously had stolen to feed his drug habit but he is now “clean”.

District Judge Nigel Broderick refused bail saying the defendant had made admissions to offences and there was a high risk of further offences being committed.

The case was adjourned to May 27.

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