Judge says man went on ‘thieving binge’

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A serial shoplifter has been remanded in to custody after pleading guilty to 20 charges of stealing which a judge described as a “thieving binge”.

Russell Allen (22), of no fixed abode but with links to the Ballymena area, admitted stealing items from shops including supermarkets from September to December last year which had a total value of £4,559.

A defence barrister said his client had been “on the run” from police during the period and alleged he had been committing the offences “to survive”.

Allen had struck at supermarkets including Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s in Antrim, Ballymena and Ballyclare.

He also stole from several stores in Ballymena including The Range, DV8, Game, Co-op, B&M Bargains, TK Maxx, Dunelm Mill and Spar.

Items stolen included several TVs, perfume, electric razors, children’s toys, alcohol, clothing, electrical goods, computer equipment, meat, chocolate, bedding, jackets, a mobile phone and food.

After Allen pleading guilty to all charges at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday, his barrister Michael Smyth applied for bail for his client.

A police officer opposed the application and told the court the thefts happened in the Antrim and Ballymena areas over three months before the defendant was arrested in the Harryville area of Ballymena.

The officer feared if the defendant was released there would be re-offending.

Mr Smyth claimed the last offences were over a month ago and alleged the offending happened when the defendant started a relationship with a woman known to the court.

He added: “That was never going to end well.”

Mr Smyth said the ending of the relationship in December coincided with what he said was the end of Allen’s offending.

Mr Smyth said his client had been “on the run” for three months from police and had been committing the theft offences “to survive”.

The police officer confirmed Allen had failed to answer police bail.

District Judge Peter King told the defendant: “There are 20 theft matters, you entered pleas, I need a pre-sentence report”.

The judge said the defendant had been avoiding police for three months and had been on a “thieving binge for the best part of the end of 2017”.

He said it was “inconceivable” that he would grant bail because of fears of reoffending and the likelihood of the defendant absconding and remanded him in custody.

The case has been adjourned until February.