Ballymena Court hears woman who was once banned from ‘every shop in Northern Ireland’ is ‘addicted’ to shoplifting

Deirdre Anne McKeown is accused of stealing from this stop at Galgorm. Picture: Google Maps

A woman whose bail conditions once banned her from every shop in Northern Ireland apart from her local convenience store has been back in court charged with theft and a judge told her: “I think your addiction to shoplifting is endemic”.

Deirdre Anne McKeown (52), of Ashbourne Manor in Ballymena, appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court charged with two thefts from a Spar shop in Galgorm.

She is alleged to have taken sandwiches worth £6 on August 8 and foodstuffs and beverages worth £14 on August 13.

A police officer opposed bail saying that on the first occasion the defendant poured herself a coffee in the shop which she paid for but left with two packets of sandwiches in her handbag and on the second occasion she again poured herself a coffee and then left with items.

The officer said McKeown made “partial admissions” saying she “forgot” to pay for the items.

The officer opposed bail saying there was a risk of offending and said the alleged offences were committed whist the defendant was on bail for alleged shoplifting at Holland & Barrett stores and as part of her conditions she was barred from entering any of Holland & Barrett’s shops.

The officer said McKeown was also currently facing other charges relating to Belfast and another area and was currently on a number of suspended sentences.

Defence barrister Michael Smyth said the contested issue in connection with the Galgorm thefts centred on whether McKeown intended to “permanently deprive” the shop.

On the first occasion, he said she didn’t realise the sandwiches were in her handbag and on the second date she was “preoccupied” with being a witness in a court case.

He said efforts were being made to “try and get to the bottom of” the defendant’s offending.

Mr Smyth said there was previously a high-profile matter where McKeown was on bail with a condition “not to be in” any shop in Northern Ireland which had lasted for six months until that case had been dealt with and at that time her daughter did her shopping.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said it seemed McKeown “just can’t help herself or stop it”.

He said she was entitled to a presumption of innocence regarding the charges before the court but refusing bail he told the defendant he was concerned there was a risk of further offences.

The judge told McKeown: “I think your addiction to shoplifting is endemic”.

The case was adjourned to September.

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