Northern Ireland news

Man accused of year-long shoplifting spree across Belfast is refused bail

Police hunting for the 25-year-old arrested him after he was found hiding under a car, prosecutors said.

A man accused of stealing thousands of pounds worth of goods during a year-long shoplifting spree across Belfast must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled today.

Aaron Douglas was refused bail amid claims he raided stores selling speciality meats, bicycles and vacuum cleaners.

Police hunting for the 25-year-old arrested him after he was found hiding under a car, prosecutors said.

Douglas, of no fixed abode, is charged with nine counts of theft and a further criminal damage to a jacket on display in one sports shop.

The alleged offences cover a 12-month period from May 2016 to May 2017.

It was claimed that he stole £719 worth of razor blades from a Tesco branch on the Castlereagh Road, and make-up valued at £472 from Boots on the Cregagh Road.

He also allegedly took up to £600 of groceries from a Co-op, and a £425 bike stocked by Halfords.

Prosecution counsel Kate McKay outlined further charges involving £80 worth of speciality meat from an Iceland store, and a £110 designer jacket on sale at Cotswold in the city centre.

The total value of alleged thefts and criminal damage came to nearly £3,000, the court heard.

Mrs McKay confirmed police were actively looking for Douglas during that period.

Officers on patrol in east Belfast spotted him dropping a bag containing a drone stolen from B&M Bargains the previous day, it was claimed.

"Police pursued him and detained him hiding under a vehicle in Erskine Sreet," the prosecutor added.

Conn O'Neill, defending, confirmed Douglas denies the charges against him.

Mr O'Neill also argued that it could be prejudicial to have all the alleged offences tried together.

"They have no coherence with each other," he contended.

But denying bail based on concerns about potential re-offending, Madam Justice McBride said: "I don't think there are any conditions I can put in place to address that risk."

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