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Cheese thief warned severity of prison terms will increase with each shoplifting incident

He was found at Tesco in Lurgan with his £22.20 stash consisting of two bottles of sparkling wine in his jacket and a block of cheese in his pocket

Craigavon Court

A Lurgan man who stole a block of cheese and two bottles of wine from Tesco has been sentenced to six months in prison.

Radoslaw Milczarek, of no-fixed-address, appeared before Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday via videolink from Maghaberry Prison.

The 44-year-old was charged with theft and burglary with intent to steal.

The defendant was told that if he entered a guilty plea to the charge of theft, the further charge of burglary with intent to steal would be withdrawn by the Prosecution.

When the charge of theft was put to the defendant, he was asked if he wished to go for trial by a jury, or be dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court.

With the assistance of a Polish interpreter, he replied: “This court”.

He was then asked if he wished to plead guilty or not guilty, to which he replied: “I am guilty”.

The court heard that on December 16 last year, police received a report of a detained shoplifter in Tesco in Lurgan.

The male had been caught stealing two bottles of sparkling wine, with the bottles having been located in his jacket. Police carried out a further search of the man and located a block of cheese in his pocket. The total cost of the goods amounted to £22.20.

A defence solicitor told the court that his client had been in custody since December 16, which amounted to approximately four months in real time.

“The value of the items is relatively small,” he added.

The defence explained that the defendant, who has a “relevant but limited record”, had entered a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity.

District Judge Bernie Kelly, presiding, commented: “This is your third consecutive offence of theft, committed just over a fortnight after you were dealt with in this court for exactly the same offence, so there can only be one penalty that this court can impose.”

District Judge Kelly imposed a period of six months imprisonment, alongside the £25 offender levy.

She added: “If he continues to shoplift, the periods of custody will increase with each court appearance to the point where, if he ends up in the Crown Court, his sentence will be in years, not months.”

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