A SERIAL shoplifter who stole over £400 worth of meat in a series of raids in Ballymena and who was selling it on at a ‘fraction’ of the price to get money for drugs, has had a seven months jail term reduced to four months on appeal.
Gareth McKee (24), whose address was listed as Chichester Park West in Ballymena, stole meat worth £150, £124, £100.88 and £41.29 from Spar and Co-Op on April 19 as well as September 2, 12 and 13 this year.
He also pleaded guilty to stealing meat from Robinson’s supermarket, from which he had been previously barred. That incident happened on August 27.
A previous court heard it said McKee was stealing to get money to “feed his drug habit”.
Defence solicitor David Nagra said the defendant stole the meat to sell and and he was then only getting a “fraction” of what it was worth.
Mr Nagra said McKee goes in and out of prison and upon his release had no regard for the consequences he faced for offending and his “lifestyle is completely chaotic and unstructured”.
Mr Nagra said McKee had shown remorse for his offending “particularly for the victims”.
Recently at Ballymena Magistrates Court, District Judge Nigel Broderick said the offences had been committed whilst McKee had been “given a chance” by being put on Probation regarding previous offending.
If the defendant was struggling there were foodbanks and charities and there was no excuse for stealing, the judge said.
He noted McKee had 75 previous convictions including 37 for theft and jailed him for seven months.
Mr Nagra had said his instructions were to lodge an appeal.
Judge Broderick had said he was not releasing McKee from custody ahead of the appeal because there was a “clear risk of further offences”.
The appeal has now been heard at Antrim Courthouse where the sentence handed down was four months.