Ballymena Court hears serial shoplifter jailed for ten months was addicted to painkillers then heroin following ‘weightlifting’ injury

A MAN who became addicted to prescription drugs and then heroin after almost being “paralysed” due to being injured whilst weightlifting, claimed a series of thefts – including taking 40 bottles of gin and rum – was linked to selling items on to get cash to feed his addiction.

David Mawhinney (47), of Drumtara, Ballymena was jailed for ten months when he appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court, sitting in Antrim, on Thursday.

He took goods involved in the thefts and attempted thefts valued at over £3,000.

In February he stole two bluetooth speakers worth £100 from Sainsburys in Ballymena.

In March this year he took alcohol, sandwiches and soft drinks worth £333 from Sainsburys.

Later in March he took tools worth £130 from Lidl in Antrim.

He also attempted to steal razors and groceries worth £240 from Tesco in Ballymena on April 25 this year.

At the start of August over two dates he took 40 bottles of Jawbox gin and Bacardi, crisps, soft drinks and kitchen roll worth over £950 from Supervalu in Kells.

Later in August he stole items worth around £750 from Sainsburys.

In September this year he stole TVs worth £550 from Tesco and attempted to take items including hoovers, a leather jacket and two bottles of Jack Daniels.

The defendant appeared at court via video link from jail.

A defence lawyer said the defendant wished to waive his right to a pre-sentence report.

The lawyer said Mawhinney had “ongoing issues” in relation to drugs but was getting assistance in prison.

The court was told that the defendant had five previous theft offences.

The defence lawyer said it was accepted that it was a “horrendous spree of offending”.

A prosecutor said some goods were recovered but items like the 40 bottles of alcohol taken in Kells were not recovered.

The lawyer said there was “no sophistication” in the thefts in which the defendant simply walked out without paying for goods.

He said all the offending could effectively be “traced back” to an injury Mawhinney suffered when he was “nearly paralysed” due to a spinal injury whilst weightlifting and as a result of that he became addicted to painkillers and then heroin.

The lawyer said the defendant was stealing to sell items on to get cash but he was not getting the money the goods were worth.

Since being remanded in prison Mawhinney was off drugs, the court was told.

The lawyer said the painkillers always “got out of control” leading to heroin and the “cycle of offending continues”.

He said the defendant no longer needs to offend to feed his addiction and in jail he has been engaging with addictions services and “feels like a completely different person”

The lawyer said Mawhinney previously worked as a baker and would be keen to get work when released from jail and wished to apologise for his actions.

District Judge Nigel Broderick told the defendant they were “not insignificant thefts and clearly what was driving this was your addiction”.

Mawhinney was jailed for ten months.

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