A grandmother accused of having processed £80,000 worth of goods through a PayPal account for eBay transactions, where she had allegedly been selling vast amounts of goods she shoplifted, is barred from every shop in Northern Ireland except her local convenience store, a court heard.
The details emerged as Deirdre Anne McKeown (50), of Skerry Road East in Newtowncrommelin, appeared via video link at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday in a failed bid to get bail.
As part of conditions imposed on her at a previous court she is barred from entering shops and is not allowed to travel in a vehicle unless with an approved person.
McKeown appeared via video link from Hydebank prison, where she is on remand in relation to several charges, and she heard a police officer object to bail saying a large amount of stolen goods including beauty products and toys were seized when the accused was stopped driving a convertible vehicle.
The officer claimed McKeown targeted stores as far away as Strabane, Londonderry and Bangor and said previous bail conditions barred her from all shops in the province apart from her own local store.
The officer alleged that items shoplifted by McKeown included Lego which she had in a jeep which was suspected of having been stolen in Bangor along with dog food and beauty products.
The policewoman alleged McKeown had stolen beauty products and said it appeared she had a buyer in England for the goods.
He said a PayPal account linked to eBay had a total of 100,000 dollars (£80,000) through it and McKeown had three bank accounts containing thousands of pounds.
A search of her house uncovered products worth thousands of pounds and the officer said that although McKeown denied it was her on CCTV there had been “twenty positive identifications” of her in stores.
The officer said police could not work out how she was stealing so much Lego and claimed they discovered it involved a refunds scam involving using similar boxes from different retailers.
District Judge Peter King said the allegations were that McKeown is running a “commercial operation”.
Defence barrister Michael Ward said that although that was being forward by police he said his client suffered from “compulsive addictive type behaviour” for which she perhaps needed medical attention.
Judge King refused bail saying it was “dishonesty and theft on a commercial level” and he said the scope and the way it was allegedly conducted, coupled with McKeown’s criminal record, meant he was refusing bail.
McKeown faces 22 charges including theft; fraud by false representation involving exchanging goods; attempted theft; handling stolen goods; possessing articles in connection with fraud; and possessing, concealing and transferring criminal property.
She now could remain behind bars over Christmas as her case was adjourned to December 29.