Man raids supermarket five times in 10 days - but avoids prison


A thief who raided a Belfast supermarket for drink five times in 10 days has avoided being sent back to prison.

Mark Connelly, 43, repeatedly stole cases of beer and wine from Asda within weeks of being released from jail.

Sentencing him to two years probation, a judge warned on Wednesday that he will be back behind bars for any breach of the order.

Connelly, of Keadyville Avenue in the city, pleaded guilty to five counts of theft and an assault on a store security guard.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court heard he targeted Asda on the Shore Road on dates between March 19-29 this year.

He stole alcohol valued at just over £80 in total.

Prosecutors said on the last occasion he became aggressive with a member of security staff, elbowing him in the face.

Defence counsel said the thefts were committed two weeks after Connelly was released from prison for nearly identical offences.

Describing the same modus operandi each time, the barrister said: “He will be in custody for a period, he will dry out, he will come out and make his best attempt to get back on his feet.

“But he will come off the rails and commit low-value thefts... of alcohol to feed his addiction.”

Based on Connolly’s pledge to try to deal with his drink problem, District Judge Fiona Bagnall decided against further imprisonment.

Imposing the probation period, which is to include an alcohol programme, she stressed: “If he breaches that order he’s going to custody.”