A heroin addict who sprayed puncture repair foam throughout a Halfords store just yards from Ballymena Police Station has been jailed for six months.
Gareth McKee (22), of Edward Street, Ballymena, caused damage in the store in an incident described by District Judge Peter King as “completely disgraceful behaviour”.
A prosecutor told Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday two males entered Halfords and sprayed the foam “all over the store” before stealing various items worth over £40 including air freshener.
She said when McKee was arrested he couldn’t remember causing any damage or the thefts but the stolen items were recovered and were fit for re-sale.
Defence barrister Neil Moore said McKee was high on drink and drugs at the time and said it was a “random act of quite despicable vandalism”.
McKee appeared a the court via video link from prison and pleaded guilty to a number of charges including another incident involving the theft of 28 tins of Lynx deordorant and six packets of meat with a combined value of £125 from a supermarket in Ballymena.
Mr Moore said the courts have had many dealings with McKee’s siblings and his father and in fact due to his dad’s offending the whole family “were required to leave” Larne and they were scattered now and living in Ballymena and Ballymoney.
Mr Moore said Gareth McKee became homeless for a stage when he moved to Ballymena and was “abusing drugs” and then began experimenting with heroin.
Mr Moore said the criminal record was one which “explodes” in the last couple of years and McKee owed heroin dealers money so he began to steal goods to sell on.
He said the defendant is a registered heroin addict and on one occasion when arrested was brought by police to a chemist to get his substitute drug.
Mr Moore said McKee said he “doesn’t want to end up in a box” and appreciates the dangers of heroin.
Judge King said McKee had 14 previous convictions and despite being warned not to re-offend when he appeared in court in January, two days later he was out shopliftng which he said made “a complete and utter mockery of the court”.
Jailing him for three months for the new matters and activating a suspended sentence of three months he told McKee the “thumbing of your nose at the suspended sentence” resulted in six months in jail.
Mr Moore applied for bail pending an appeal in June and the judge said he was not releasing McKee ahead of that before telling the defendant: “Good luck in the Appeal Court, I suspect you will need it”.