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Shoplifter who carried out three thefts shortly after prison release is back behind bars

He was caught stealing goods from The Range, Tesco and B&M Bargains, the court heard

A Portadown man has been sentenced to six months behind bars for a trio of shoplifting incidents which all occurred shortly after his release from prison.

Court heard the 45-year-old had 25 previous convictions in the last four or five years with his barrister commenting that this could be a “compulsive issue”.

Ryan Ritchie, of Hartfield Avenue, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft at Craigavon Magistrates’ Court on Friday, where he appeared via videolink from Maghaberry.

Prosecution outlined that these offences were accrued over three separate incidents.

On August 13, police received a report from The Range, at the Meadows shopping centre in Portadown, of a male entering the store and stealing two sets of bedding valued at £50.

He was challenged by security staff at the exit and the items were recovered and deemed fit for resale.

Then on September 7, police received a report from B&M Bargains in Portadown that a male had stolen a miniature jukebox, a soundbar and two bottles of Joop aftershave from the store.

After being challenged by staff the jukebox and soundbar were recovered. These items were fit for resale.

Police identified the defendant as the male in question after viewing CCTV footage from the store.

Officers attended Ritchie’s home. They could hear someone moving inside the property but he refused to come to the door.

After forcing their way into the house they spoke to the defendant in the hallway.

He was cautioned for the offence but made no reply.

During a search of the property the other stolen items were not recovered.

When interviewed, Ritchie admitted stealing the soundbar and jukebox but denied having taken the aftershave.

Then on October 5, at around 7.45pm, staff at Tesco in Portadown observed the defendant at the self checkout unsteady on his feet.

They watched as Ritchie placed a box of air fresheners into a Lidl bag. Believing that the defendant did not intend on paying for the items staff waited at the exit.

They apprehended the defendant outside the store and seized the goods, which were valued at around £60, and they were fit for resale.

Defence barrister Aaron Thompson stated: “He fundamentally admitted to all the offences but the Joop aftershave at the first opportunity.

“He has a very relevant record. I am unsure as to whether there is a compulsive issue but he does have a number of health complaints.”

He continued: “He was out of custody for a very brief period, during which these three offences were committed. He was not granted bail and has been in custody since the first appearance because of his record.

“He is aware that your worship could impose something crushing but most of the items were fit for resale. There was little damage other than the nuisance he caused doing this time and time again.”

District Judge Paul Copeland said: “The fact they were fit for resale is almost irrelevant. This man has 25 and with these three we are pushing 30 convictions in the last four or five years.

“The last time he was given any kind of community based sentence was almost 10 years ago.”

Mr Thompson stated: “The problem is Mr Ritchie often finds himself between a rock and a hard place. That is by the time it comes to sentencing he has accrued some time on remand.

“This is a difficulty of Mr Ritchie’s own making.”

District Judge Copeland said: “Mr Ritchie, taking into account your plea of guilty the court may have considered an alternative to a custodial sentence.

“However, due to the time that you have accrued a custodial sentence is the option chosen.”

Ritchie was sentenced to six months in prison for the offences.

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