A heroin addict who caused £800 worth of damage to staff lockers at Belfast City Hospital in a bid to find cash or items to sell on to feed his habit has avoided a ten months jail after working well with an addictions service.
Dale McKee (24), of Edward Street. Ballymena, appeared at the town’s Magistrate’s Court on Thursday regarding a number of offences including theft, criminal damage and possession of heroin.
A prosecutor previously said that in June last year McKee and a co-accused targeted staff lockers at a corridor at Floor A of Belfast City Hospital and items stolen included a staff member’s security pass which was left in a locker.
£800 worth of damage was caused to the lockers and the culprits were identified by CCTV.
McKee told police he had been drinking heavily at the time and wished to apologise.
Also last year, McKee attempted to steal seven boxes of Michael Kors perfume worth almost £300 from Debenham’s in Belfast and was caught before he could flee.
In May this year the defendant was caught with heroin in his sock after being stopped and searched by police.
He told officers he “forgot” it was there and said he was “getting help” for his addiction.
In June, District Judge Peter King said he would defer sentence until the end of August and if there was any re-offending or McKee “fell off the wagon” he was facing ten months in jail but if he stayed out of trouble he would get a suspended jail term.
Back at Ballymena Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, McKee had a black eye and was using a crutch as he entered the dock.
Defence barrister Neil Moore said his client had been involved in an altercation and added: “When you have his background unfortunately he comes into conflict with others”.
Mr Moore said the defendant had a chronic heroin addiction but his compliance with the Railway Street addiction service in Ballymena recently had been “exemplary”.
He said he accepted the hospital incident was a serious “invasion” of such a building.
He said if his client could beat heroin he would no longer need to steal to fund his habit.
Judge King told McKee the defendant had kept his side of the bargain, and as such, he was given a six months prison term suspended for two years.
McKee told the court: “I want a new life”.