Heroin addict living in a tent stole duvet ‘after blankets soaked in wet weather’

Dale McKee

A heroin addict stole a duvet from Sainsbury’s because he was living rough in a tent and his blankets got completely soaked in bad weather, a court heard.

Dale McKee (26), of no fixed abode in Ballymena, appeared at the town’s Magistrates Court via video link from Maghaberry Prison.

He admitted stealing bedding worth £30 from Sainsbury’s in Ballymena on June 29 this year and also stealing a vase worth £11 from The Range the previous day.

He also took a hi-fi worth £100 from Sainsbury’s in May this year.

A prosecutor said McKee was outside Ballymena Railway Station and when he spotted police he attempted to run off.

Defence solicitor David Nagra said the defendant was “rough-sleeping” in a tent with his brother and the duvet was stolen after blankets and clothing got “completely soaked” during bad weather.

The lawyer said McKee was a heroin addict who mainly steals to fund his addiction.

Mr Nagra said whilst on remand in prison the defendant completed a CSR course which would possibly enable him to work in the construction industry.

He said something was needed to “break the cycle” of McKee, who has almost 100 offences on his record, from committing crime and being jailed.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said McKee’s situation was “sad” but that he had given him a chance in May when he received a suspended sentence for previous shoplifting.

Jailing McKee for nine months the judge said he was not satisfied that the current cases warranted anything other than custody.

McKee was granted bail on the sum of £500 for appeal but the judge ordered that he remains behind bars until the appeal court.

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