A man with over 300 convictions who was caught stealing a steam iron told shop staff: “Are you calling me a thief? you are embarrassing me.”
Noel Campbell (58), of Edward Street, Ballymena, made the comment after being nabbed trying to take a Goodman steam iron worth £29.99 from B&M Bargains in the town on September 11 this year.
Standing in the dock at Ballymena Magistrates Court on Thursday, October 5 Campbell pleaded guilty to the one theft charge he faced.
A prosecutor said police received a report that a man known to staff as “Noel” had failed to pay for the iron and told the court what Campbell said when confronted. The iron was fit for re-sale.
Defence barrister Neil Moore said he had represented the defendant for a number of years and said his client was not currently in breach of any court orders.
He said it was the first time in many years that Campbell had committed a shoplifting offence.
At the time of the incident he said Campbell had taken medication.
Mr Moore said Campbell’s home was the the subject of a petrol bomb attack the previous week.
He said his client has a considerable criminal record and added: “I would like to think he is not going back to his old ways.”
District Judge Peter King said the iron theft now brought Campbell’s record up to 314 offences.
He said a significant amount of time had lapsed since Campbell was last before a court specifically for shoplifting, which was in 2009.
The judge told Campbell: “I’m not going to send you to prison for a £29.99 steam iron that was recovered.”
Campbell was given a four months prison term, suspended for two years.
On September 29, Campbell told the media how he and one of his sons were “lucky to be alive” after a petrol bomb attack on his Ballymena home.
Noel Campbell was upstairs at his terraced rented home at Edward Street in the Harryville area of Ballymena and his son was sitting in the living room just before midnight on Thursday September 28 when the attack happened.
He said: “A petrol bomb came through the living room window and landed a few feet from one of my sons.”
He added he and the 24-year-old son were the only people in the house.
Said Campbell: “Thankfully it didn’t ignite fully and my son was able to get water from the kitchen and put out the flames.”
He added: “We are lucky to be alive, we could have been killed.”
Campbell said blue paint had been lobbed at the house a month before but said before that there had been no incidents since he moved there in 2015.
He said he did not know why his home was targeted but added: “I’m not moving for anybody”.
Campbell previously lived in Larne and said he left there after his house was attacked a number of times.