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Habitual thief stole TV from Rushmere as a present for his partner’s daughter

Court told defendant had '25 previous convictions for acts of dishonesty'

A Lurgan man who stole a television as a gift for his partner’s daughter had been handed a suspended prison sentence.

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Court heard the 31-year-old had 25 previous convictions for acts of dishonesty, but his solicitor said he had now begun to target the root cause of his offending.

James John Bell, of Houston Park, pleaded guilty to theft at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Court heard that upon checks being carried out of high-value items at Sainsbury’s, Rushmere, staff noted that an LED TV was missing.

Checks of CCTV showed a male enter the store on September 9, at 4.50pm, and remove the tags from the television box.

He then placed the item under his arm before leaving without making any effort to pay for it.

Upon identification, police attended the address of the defendant and recovered the television in a child’s bedroom upstairs.

The packaging for the item was found in the master bedroom.

Bell was subsequently arrested and taken to Lurgan Custody Suite.

During interview, the defendant admitted to taking the television which he gave to his partner’s daughter as a present.

Bell claimed he had intended on paying for the item but suffered a panic attack due to medication he was taking.

Defence solicitor Jim McGinnis stated: “Mr Bell albeit belatedly apologises for his conduct and accepts conduct of this nature cannot continue.

“Fortunately the item was discovered quite soon after it was taken and was fit for resale.”

He commented: “Sadly for myself, Mr Bell’s record leaves limited room for manoeuvre, however, previously he had been stealing in order to feed his addiction to prescription drugs, an addiction from which he has suffered since he was a child.”

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Mr McGinnis said: “Mr Bell is now engaging in specialist treatment both at St Luke’s Hospital at the addiction unit and at Lurgan hospital.

“It is hoped that with the assistance of this treatment he can address the root of the causes of his offending and begin to contribute to society.”

Court was told the defendant had also been working with his local church and had recently begun employment.

District Judge Bernie Kelly stated: “Mr Bell, in conjunction with your record this is a very serious offence. You have 25 previous convictions for acts of dishonesty.

“The positives are that you are now undergoing treatment for your addiction and have found employment.”

The defendant was sentenced to six months in prison suspended for two years.

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