Heroin-addict shoplifter said fire at his former family home meant he was not receiving legal letters

The former family home in the Harryville area of Ballymena.

A heroin-addicted shoplifter for whom an arrest warrant was issued after he failed to show up at a previous court had not been receiving legal letters because his family moved after a fire at their home, his solicitor said.

The registered address for Dale McKee (24), had been Edward Street in Ballymena.

McKee had previously pleaded guilty to thefts from a number of shops including £200 worth of meat; bottles of fragrance worth £102; £36 worth of detergent; a microwave, kettle and toaster.

He had also admitted resisting a police officer in the execution of her duty.

That was in relation to an incident involving a “melee” when other members of McKee’s family were beside a police vehicle.

At a previous sitting of Ballymena Magistrates Court, McKee seemed to be dozing in the public gallery and a judge told him that if he wanted a bed he should go to the Adair Arms Hotel next door.

The case had been adjourned to May 24 but the defendant failed to turn up and an arrest warrant was issued.

He was then taken to a sitting of the court on Saturday May 26 and was granted bail subject to an address being available.

Defence solicitor David Nagra told the Thursday May 31 court sitting, McKee’s family home had been “gutted by fire” and the defendant had not been receiving letters.

The court heard McKee’s father now lives elsewhere in Ballymena.

The court was told bail had not been perfected and Dale McKee was remanded in custody as his case was adjourned until June 21 for the preparation of a pre-sentence report.

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