Serial shoplifter who stole over £400 worth of meat in Ballymena was ‘selling it on at fraction of price’

Gareth McKee

A SHOPLIFTER who stole over £400 worth of meat in a series of raids in Ballymena was selling it on at a ‘fraction’ of the price to get money for drugs, the town’s Magistrates Court heard.

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 told Thursday’s court the defendant stole the meat to sell and and he was then only getting a “fraction” of what it was worth.

McKee appeared before the court from Maghaberry Prison where he has been on remand.

Mr Nagra said McKee goes in and out of prison and upon his release on this occasion was given a “£200 grant” and applied for benefits.

He said the defendant gave no regard for the consequences he faced for offending and his “lifestyle is completely chaotic and unstructured”.

The lawyer said McKee had recently been granted compassionate bail to attend his grandfather’s funeral but he was unable to go after being unable to get a suitable bail surety.

Mr Nagra said McKee had shown remorse for his offending “particularly for the victims”.

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.

Mr Nagra said his instructions were to lodge an appeal against the seven months sentence.

Judge Broderick said he was not releasing McKee from custody ahead of the appeal because there was a “clear risk of further offences”.

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