Suspended prison term for man caught trying to steal £167 worth of candles from Tesco

A man caught stealing £167 worth of candles from Tesco in Ballymena was being “ferried around” by a “sinister” individual to steal to pay off a debt, a defence barrister claimed.

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 3:50 pm

Neil McDonald (42), formerly of Ballymena but now living in Derry/Londonderry, was caught stealing 18 candles on March 28, 2020.

They were all fit for re-sale.

The defence lawyer told Ballymena Magistrates Court a pre-sentence report was “alarming” and McDonald had a relevant record.

The lawyer said the defendant had been taking drugs at the time and was “under a considerable degree of pressure”.

The barrister said that was due to “accruing a debt to a more sinister element within the greater Ballymena area who actually ferried him around when he accrued a debt, took his benefit book from him, and ferried him around and told him what shops to go in and try and recoup money for his debt”.

The lawyer said the defendant was “right in the middle of a spiral” at the time.

The court heard McDonald moved out of Ballymena and is on a methadone programme and is “not stealing things to feed a habit which he now has got under control”.

He said the defendant “wants to change”.

The defendant was given a three months prison term, suspended for two years.

Deputy District Judge Greg McCourt told the defendant in court: “You should not get involved in anything of this nature again”.