A MAN with 128 previous convictions who was given hostel accommodation in Ballymena after being released from prison tried to get refunds for £180 worth of clothing which he lifted off hangers before going to tills.
Robert McCamley (36) was released from jail on licence in June this year after appearing at Antrim Crown Court and within days he was back in trouble, Ballymena Magistrates Court was told.
On July 7 staff at the hostel called in police about suspicions they had and officers found McCamley had Diazepam tablets and cannabis.
On July 13 he stole a soundbar speaker and earphones from B&M Bargains at the town’s Braidwater Retail Park.
On the same date he took clothing worth £54.99 off a hanger at DV8 in the Tower Centre in Ballymena whilst falsely claiming he owned it and wanted a refund.
He committed a similar offence at Wallace’s store in Ballymena involving two items of clothing worth £125.
A defence barrister said that after getting out of prison McCamley had to reside at an address suitable to the authorities whilst on licence.
Regarding the accommodation the defendant was given, the defence lawyer said for a man with drugs issues he “couldn’t think of anywhere worse, with the greatest of respect”.
The barrister did add: “They offer a fantastic facility”.
He added: “He comes out of prison, he was placed in Ballymena, he was in an environment where, unfortunately, drugs are available”.
The lawyer said McCamley even informed the powers-that-be that he was “struggling”.
The defendant was then had his prison licence recalled with a release date of March next year.
In prison, the defence barrister said, the defendant has passed all his drug tests.
McCamley, who appeared at court via video link from jail, pleaded guilty to charges of possessing Class B and C drugs, theft and attempted fraud by false representation by presenting clothing which he had not purchased for a refund.
District Judge Nigel Broderick ordered that the defendant serves an extra three months custody at the end of his current prison licence period.
He said McCamley had 128 previous convictions and the offences had occurred when he was licence.