A heroin addict with over 200 convictions who stole a phone from a mobility scooter has been jailed for nine months.
Damien Gibbons, whose drug habit started at the age of seven, carried out the theft at a store in Belfast earlier this month.
The 41-year-old, of Capall Court in Londonderry, had previously been ordered out of his native city by vigilantes, his lawyer said.
Gibbons admitted a charge of stealing the mobile phone on May 10.
Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard he took it from a handbag the victim had placed on her husband’s mobility scooter.
Defence counsel Sean Doherty described it as a “regrettable” setback in his client’s attempts to deal with a long-term addiction.
“He’s been using drugs for 33 years, he first began smoking cannabis at the age of seven,” the barrister said.
“He was due to start a heroin substitute programme when he was expelled from the city of Derry by criminal vigilantes, they weren’t happy with his presence there.”
Gibbons moved to a hostel in Belfast where he fell in with a former criminal associate, the court heard.
Mr Doherty accepted the defendant has “an appalling record”, but stressed the phone was not taken from anyone in a wheelchair.
“The complainant’s husband uses a mobility scooter, and nobody was in it at the time,” he added.
Imposing six months imprisonment for the latest theft, District Judge Ken Nixon called it “a mean offence” and ordered Gibbons to pay £100 compensation.
He must now also serve a further three months of a previously suspended three-month jail sentence for a separate theft.