A SERIAL shoplifter who raided stores to fund her drug habit is to be banned from entering any shop, a High Court judge ordered on Wednesday.
The prohibition was imposed on 27-year-old Kelly Louise McKee as she was granted bail pending an appeal against her 12-month jail sentence.
Last week McKee, of Chichester Park West in Ballymena, was convicted of five counts of theft.
She stole alcohol, electrical items and meat products worth a total of £950 from Tesco, Co-op and Spar stores in her hometown between September 1 and October 2.
A prosecutor told the High Court she had entered the retail outlets, filled trolleys or bags full of stock, and left without paying.
“The goods are sold and the money derived from the sales used to fund a drug addiction,” he added.
The court was told McKee has now amassed 184 convictions, some of which relate to earlier theft incidents.
She received a four-month prison sentence for the new offences, with a further eight months imposed for breaching a previously suspended term.
A defence lawyer said he has been representing McKee since she was 14, when her “pernicious” drugs dependency began.
The barrister submitted: “She was addicted by criminal gangs who brought heroin and gave it to young people for free.”
With McKee’s appeal against sentence due to be heard next month, the lawyer explained his client wanted to be out in time to see her child at Christmas.
Granting bail, Lord Justice McCloskey indicated it had been a “difficult and borderline” decision.
He ordered: “The applicant will not enter any commercial premises of any description whatsoever, for any purpose, save a registered pharmacy.”
Imposing a curfew and monitoring conditions, the judge also directed that McKee must contact a community addiction project in Ballymena within 24 hours of her release, the Belfast Telegraph reports.