Ballymena man with 140 previous convictions claims he stole TV to pay 'drug debt'

Ballymena man with 140 previous convictions claims he stole TV to pay 'drug debt'

A BALLYMENA man claims he stole a TV in a burglary of a flat near his home at High Street in the town to pay a "drug debt".

Ciaran McKeown (26), appeared at Antrim Magistrates Court, sitting in Ballymena, via video link from prison where he had been on remand.

He committed the offence on October 1 this year.

A prosecutor said at 1.45am security staff at High Street Flats saw a male with a TV outside in the street and when they checked CCTV it was established he had entered a flat and taken it to another flat.

Police were contacted and the TV was recovered.

The court heard the defendant, who had 140 previous convictions, had been out of prison ten days before the he committed the burglary.

Defence solicitor John McAtamney said the defendant had been "friends with the injured party" and would have been in and out of her home but on this occasion "he entered without permission".

He said: "It appears he was put under pressure by another individual to pay a drug debt. The individual suggested he take the TV and he did that."

The solicitor said McKeown had been in and out of prison all his adult life and said a pre-sentence report said the defendant "displays all the classic symptoms of someone who has become institutionalised".

District Judge Nigel Broderick said McKeown had an "atrocious" criminal record and the pre-sentence report "made for very depressing reading".

He told the defendant: "You either have or are at risk of becoming institutionalised in so far as  you seem to be in and out of prison".

McKeown was jailed for four months.