Hot tub 'gone in 49 seconds'

Hot tub 'gone in 49 seconds'

A COURT in Ballymena heard a speedy shoplifter hot-footed it with a hot tub within '49 seconds' of entering a Tesco store.

Lee Sheppard (31), with an address listed as Waveney Mews in Ballymena, has now ended up in hot water with the courts following the nimble-footed raid on April 26 this year.

A prosecutor told Antrim Magistrates' Court, sitting in Ballymena, the defendant walked out with the '£365' hot tub.

Appearing at court, via a video link from Antrim town, it was heard Sheppard entered Tesco in Ballymena and "49 seconds later he exited the store pushing a trolley containing a hot tub".

Sheppard made no attempt to pay and the hot tub was not recovered.

Police later identified him on CCTV and he was arrested on June 20 at a B&B in the Antrim town area.

The prosecutor said Sheppard told the PSNI he took the hot tub "to pay off a £300 debt to a drug dealer he owed money to".

The court heard the defendant also took a TV worth £418 from Tesco in Newtownards.

On the same day - May 5 this year - Sheppard took a TV worth £280 from Lidl in Newtownards.

The TVs were recovered by staff.

Sheppard also took three sets of headphones and a 'meal deal' worth a total of £273 from Sainsbury's in Ballymena on May 1 this year.

On another occasion he stole food worth £10 from Fullan's supermarket in Portglenone.

The court was also told that on July 29, 2018, the defendant banged his partner's head off a door, three times, in Limavady.

He had also thrown a child's 'quad bike' at her and smashed her mobile phone.

He was convicted of assault and criminal damage.

The court heard he recently received benefits of £300 and would pay it to the court as compensation for the stolen goods which were not recovered.

A defence solicitor said Sheppard had "developed drug debt" and the thefts had been "opportunistic".

He said the defendant had not been difficult with shop staff and when "confronted" in Newtownards he "simply left the televisions".

District Judge Nigel Broderick jailed Sheppard for ten months.

He said the defendant had an "appalling" criminal record of 125 previous convictions.

The judge said they had been "brazen and blatant" incidents of stealing high value goods to sell "to buy drugs".

Judge Broderick ordered that although Sheppard did not have enough money to pay for the full amount of the goods not recovered, the £300 compensation be split equally between Tesco for the hot tub and Sainsbury's for the headphones.

  • Main picture: Lee Sheppard.