Jail for addict called ‘a drain on local society’

editorial image

A heroin addict who mounted a series of shoplifting raids has been described as a “drain on society in the Ballymena area”.

The comment was made at Ballymena Court about Gareth McKee (22), of Edward Street, Ballymena, who has amassed 40 convictions, and was jailed for four months.

He appeared at the court on December 7 via video link from Maghaberry Prison.

He had stolen clothes worth £129 from Marks and Spencer; lamps from The Range and Lidl and curtains from The Range. He also stole a kettle, toaster, bedding and air fresheners from B&M.

Defence barrister Neil Moore admitted it was a “plethora” of shoplifting from stores including places McKee had previously been banned from.

He said the defendant was brought up in Larne.

However, “through nothing to do with himself” he and his family was “forced out of Larne” and moved to Ballymena.

McKee became addicted to heroin and had been stealing “to get by”.

The court heard McKee described as a “drain on society in the Ballymena area”.

Mr Moore said the defendant was at a high risk of re-offending and needs assistance.

District Judge Peter King said he had to balance trying to rehabilitate the defendant with preventing further offending and “protecting local shopholders”.

Jailing McKee he told him to seek assistance with addiction services when released from jail.