A judge in Ballymena said: “Drugs are a terrible scourge on our society”.
District Judge Nigel Broderick was speaking at the town’s Magistrates Court on Thursday when he jailed heroin addict Dale McKee, who was in breach of seven suspended sentences, for eight months.
McKee, formerly with an address at Edward Street, Ballymena, had stolen £200 worth of meat; detergent; worth £36; bottles of fragrance worth £102 as well as a microwave, kettle and toaster worth £95.
The court heard he used a ‘bag for life’
On another occasion he was in Semi-Chem when a police officer saw him stealing a packet of Nurofen.
The court was also told of an incident on Thursday February 8 this year in the vicinity of Ballymena Courthouse when there was a “melee”.
McKee had a dog on a lead and started to run. He admitted resisting a police officer in the execution of her duty.
McKee had been taken away in an ambulance after falling ill at the same court the on Thursday June 21.
Defence barrister Neil Moore said his client had drug abuse difficulties.
The lawyer said McKee and his family hail from Larne and for “various reasons” they relocated to Ballymena.
The defendant, said Mr Moore, was involved in shoplifting “to feed” his drug addiction.
The lawyer said “due to a number of reasons” the family have now moved to another part of Ballymena.
Mr Moore said McKee was getting methadone on prescription but on occasions he would fail to pick it up and then mis-use heroin which would continue the “vicious circle” of offending.
Mr Moore said treatment is required to give McKee a settled lifestyle.
The lawyer said McKee was always going to get caught when he shoplifts because shopowners and police know him and there is CCTV in place.
Jailing the defendant, the judge said that although McKee was only 25, drugs had “fuelled a life of crime”.
The judge said until the defendant engaged with treatment for his addiction, prison would be a “revolving door” and “the only alternative is a period of custody”.
Bail was fixed for appeal but McKee will remain in custody in the mean time.