Man ‘brought into a life of crime’ is jailed for nine months

Ballymena Court8
Ballymena Court.

A MAN said to have been “brought into a life of crime” whilst growing up has been jailed for nine months for a series of shoplifting raids.

Gareth McKee (23), of Princes Street in Ballymena, stole £91 worth of washing detergent from the Spar at Frys Road in Ballymena in June this year and two days later he took £30 worth of shower gels and deodorant from Poundland in the Tower Centre.

The offences happened a few weeks after he had been released from prison.

He also went shoplifting in July and August, taking £42 worth of products from the meat section at The Phoenix Centra in Ballymena and returned to the store to take food worth £51.

On the second occasion staff were watching McKee live on CCTV and grabbed his bag as he made off on foot.

On August 11 McKee was in Wysebyse in Ballymena but a member of the public spotted him putting items in a bag and when they informed staff, it emerged the defendant had taken candlestick holders worth £25.

Later in August the defendant took a multi-grinder worth £20 from the special goods aisle in Lidl.

McKee had also breached a Court Order which required him to do Community Service, get addiction counselling and complete the ‘Thinking Skills’ programme.

Meanwhile, the defendant has pleaded guilty to stealing a mobile phone worth £140 from a male on September 3 and Prosecco wine worth £22 from Tesco on September 28.

He has pleaded not guilty to assaulting a female and male and to having a hypodermic needle as an offensive weapon in a public place in Coleraine on the same date.

That case was adjourned to November 15 to fix a date for a contest.

McKee was in handcuffs when he appeared in the dock at Ballymena Magistrates Court on November 1.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson accepted it was now “the end of the line” for his client and said McKee had been in and out of prison.

He said a previous offence involved the defendant carrying a knife because he was “under threat” but it had not been used.

Mr Thompson said his client’s siblings, bar one, are heroin addicts and McKee “was brought up in a family home were effectively he was just brought into a life of crime”.

The lawyer said the theft offences were “all low-value hand-to-mouth thefts to feed a heroin addiction” and he accepted the defendant had a “horrendous” record.

District Judge Nigel Broderick said McKee had an “awful” record and jailed him for nine months.

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