A MAN who received a jail sentence for stealing schoolboy Noah Donohoe’s bag has been back in court accused of theft from a pharmacy in Ballymena.
Daryl Paul (36), formerly with a Belfast address but now with an address listed as Maghaberry Prison, is alleged to have stolen two Nicorette quick mist sprays worth £58 from Boots in the Harryville area of Ballymena on April 18, 2019.
He appeared via video link from Maghaberry at Antrim Magistrates' Court, sitting in Ballymena, on Tuesday.
A defence solicitor said the defendant has been on remand custody since the start of the year in connection with a "burglary".
He said it appeared identification of the defendant in connection with the alleged Ballymena incident was "based on CCTV" and he wished to view it.
The case was adjourned to May 31.
In January 2021 another court heard Paul tried to pawn a laptop owned by Belfast schoolboy Noah Donohoe, while a major search for the teenager was ongoing.
Paul had pleaded guilty to stealing a rucksack containing Noah's laptop and schoolbooks, after finding it on the day the boy went missing.
The defendant received a three months jail sentence on that matter.
A defence lawyer had said Paul had no personal contact with Noah at any stage and said the theft was "opportunistic".
Noah Donohoe (14) went missing after leaving his home on a bike in June, 2020, and his disappearance led to a major search operation in north Belfast.
The schoolboy's body was recovered from a storm drain six days later, and a subsequent post-mortem examination found that he died as a result of drowning.
The court last year heard Paul had 194 previous convictions, including 52 for theft - a record a judge described as "horrendous" but he stressed there was no link between Paul and the schoolboy's death.
"There is no overlap between this accused and the terrible tragedy that befell poor Noah," the judge had said.
The theft case at a Magistrates' Court in Belfast had been told that three days after Noah went missing, a man and woman went into a Cash Converters store and attempted to sell the teenager's laptop.
Staff at the shop refused to buy the computer and alerted police and Paul was later identified on CCTV footage.
The defendant told police he found the laptop propped up against a wall near Ulster University buildings in Belfast city centre.
He took it home but was unable to turn it on.
The defendant also told police he did not look in detail at books inside the bag.
"He said he didn't know the bag belonged to the missing boy Noah, and if he had known that he would have returned it immediately," a prosecution lawyer had told the court.
"He said that he did make some positive efforts to unite the bag and contents with its owner, and he was planning to try and return it at some stage."
A defence barrister had told the court that the police accepted there was "no personal overlap" between his client and Noah.
"This is just an opportunistic, dishonest, person finding a rucksack and treating it as his own," he said.
He added that his client later provided information to police which led to officers recovering the laptop.
"He couldn't have been more cooperative and helpful in moving the police investigation along," the defence barrister said.
- Main picture: The pharmacy in Ballymena.