Belfast thief stole 12 tea towels day after he was given bail

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An habitual thief who stole 12 tea towels 24 hours after he was granted bail was jailed for two months on Saturday.

Standing in the dock of Belfast Magistrates’ Court in a red coat and blue track suit bottoms, 28-year-old Michael McNally was charged with stealing the dish cloths worth £78 from the Visit Belfast souvenir shop on Friday.

Clearly familiar with court procedures, McNally, from Hillman Street in Belfast, did not need the court clerk to finish her questions of what court he wanted to be dealt with and if he pleaded guilty or not guilty, declaring “this court” and “guilty”.

A prosecuting lawyer described how McNally went into the shop at 10.45 on Friday morning and having selected the items, simply walked out of the shop without offering payment.

Defence solicitor Jim McCann said that within a short space of time, officers had stopped McNally to speak to him without any suspicions at all but he admitted straight away: “I have stolen something – here you are.”

Mr McCann conceded that McNally had numerous convictions for theft and was in breach of a suspended sentence for a similar matter which had been imposed on August 17, but he submitted he had stolen the tea towels “in an act of desperation” as he was hungry from sleeping rough the night before.

District Judge George Conner revealed that he had granted McNally bail the day before his latest theft, a condition of which was to stay away from the Visit Belfast shop.

Despite McNally pleading from the dock for a suspended sentence again, Judge Conner jailed him for two months and activated the suspended sentence to be served concurrently.