A CUSTOMER swiped an estimated £70 in cash and dumped a charity box in a bin at toilets at the McDonald’s restaurant in Ballymena.
David John Gibson (35), formerly of Hill Street in Ballymena but now with an address listed as Rosemary Place in Coleraine, appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday and admitted five counts of theft and two charges of possessing cannabis – relating to various dates in 2019.
In recent weeks he also breached a restraining order regarding his mother.
Items stolen by Gibson included the theft of money belonging to the ‘Ronald McDonald House Charity’ on March 27 last year.
The charity says: ‘Ronald McDonald Houses are located as close as possible to a specialist children’s hospitals across the UK. This means that families can be by their child’s bedside in a matter of moments, whilst maintaining a degree of normal life and reducing emotional and financial strain.’
In other incidents Gibson took Armani Code aftershave worth £80 and Davidoff The Game aftershave worth £50 from Boots Chemists; chocolate worth £1 from Poundland in Ballymena; and X Box games worth £300 from B&M Bargains.
A prosecutor said McDonald’s discovered a charity box missing from their Ballymena counter and CCTV showed Gibson removing it from between two tills and taking it to the toilets where the empty charity box was then recovered from a bin.
The prosecution lawyer said McDonald’s staff told police that, “based on ticket sales” in relation to the charity, there would have been approximately £70 in the box.
Defence barrister Neil Moore said at the time of the offences the defendant was living in Ballymena with his brother and had been leading a “nomadic, unstructured, lifestyle” whilst “experimenting in taking drugs”.
The court heard the defendant has left Ballymena and moved back to Coleraine where he had been living with his partner and there had been a “complete break in criminality”.
Mr Moore said the stolen aftershave was to be sold for money as the defendant had, at the time, been “struggling” on benefits.
Regarding breaching the restraining order with his mother on September 7 this year the defence barrister said the defendant had been at her house “with her agreement” and then returned when the house was empty and was “banging at the door” asking for his belongings and tobacco.
The defendant appeared at Ballymena Magistrates Court, sitting in Antrim, on Thursday via video link from prison where he has been on remand.
Mr Moore said Gibson had been remanded in custody because police wished him to be bailed to an address outside of Coleraine following the incident with his mother and an appropriate address was unavailable.
District Judge Nigel Broderick admitted the defendant to bail at Rosemary Place in Coleraine to complete a current Community Service Order and he is to have no contact with his mother.
Sentencing was adjourned until November.