Shoplifters with 350 convictions jailed for ‘stealing spree’

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Two career criminals, with over 350 previous convictions between them, who were caught last December after their latest shoplifting ‘spree’, have been jailed for 15 months.

Judge Piers Grant QC told 54-year-old Michael O’Rawe and 49-year-old Emmanuel Martin Tully that they were not only a menace to society but also to the shopkeepers of Northern Ireland.

Both O’Rawe, from Springfield Avenue in Belfast, and Tully from Gortfin Street in the city. admitted stealing two Samsung tablet computers and having a magnetic device along with an assortment of hats – all on December 8 last year.

The Downpatrick Crown Court judge, sitting at Belfast, said their chosen lifestyle was reflected in pre-sentence reports in which they denied going to the Springhill shopping complex as part of a pre-meditated shoplifting expedition.

Rejecting the claims entirely, Judge Grant said they had gone to the Bangor complex as part of a pre-planned and pre-organised “stealing spree”.

At an earlier hearing, prosecutor Lauren Cheshire said that when arrested, Tully, who has 276 previous convictions, and O’Rawe, with 80 convictions, had in addition to the two stolen tablets, a magnetic device used for removing security tags.

Ms Cheshire said they also had several hats which could be used to alter their appearance going in to shops.

When interviewed, O’Rawe made no comment while Tully suggested they had gone to Bangor looking for a specific item to buy and had lifted the tablet on impulse.

Judge Grant said that after hearing “eloquent pleas” from defence lawyers Sean O’Hare and John O’Connor, it was clear that both O’Rawe and Tully had learned “absolutely nothing” from their previous offending, and continued with their lifestyle choices, leaving others to pick up the pieces.