Serial thief jailed for stealing 16 bars of chocolate

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A serial thief with nearly 250 previous convictions has been jailed for stealing chocolate from a Belfast city centre shop.

Michael McNally is to serve two months behind bars after he admitted taking 16 bars during a burglary at Poundland in Castlecourt.

The 28-year-old also pleaded guilty to stealing cheese and bacon in an earlier raid on a convenience store in the north of the city.

Imposing the prison sentence, a judge at Belfast Magistrates’ Court told him: “People working and going about their daily business don’t need to be bothered by you.”

McNally, of Hillman Street in the city, was stopped by staff at Poundland on Thursday.

He had hidden bars of chocolate in his jacket before being detained.

Prosecutors revealed that an exclusion order was in place banning him preventing him from entering the Castlecourt complex.

The previous theft related to an incident at a shop on the Cavehill Road on April 1.

He took three blocks of cheddar cheese and three packets of bacon and left without paying.

A defence lawyer stressed McNally had directed no violence at shop staff or police.

He added that his client had been waiting for benefits to come through.

But based on McNally’s criminal record District Judge Peter King said he had to send him back to prison.

“The issue for the court is how to best manage somebody who has 242 convictions, including 125 for theft,” he said.

“I’m afraid custody is the inevitable outcome of this behaviour, not least for the burglary matter where he was excluded from the area.”

As well as jailing McNally for two months, the judge ordered him to pay a £25 offender levy.