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Boxer turned shop thief gets two year sentence

Laganside Court Belfast .Pic Hugh Russell.

A BELFAST man who once boxed for Ireland was jailed yesterday for a spate of break-ins and thefts from shops, offices and a theatre in the city.

Brendan McKee - who Belfast Crown Court heard committed offences on an almost daily basis - was handed a 'global' two-year sentence after he admitted a total of 18 offences, most of which were committed last year.

Sentencing McKee, from Carlisle Road, Judge Gordon Kerr QC expressed the hope that he would soon come to realise the error of his ways - or face more lengthy periods of imprisonment.

Prior to sentencing being passed, Judge Kerr was informed by a Crown prosecutor that at one stage last year, McKee's offending was on an almost daily basis. It also emerged that "nothing worth re-selling" was recovered.

Amongst the 18 offences he admitted, McKee tried to break into The Mac Theatre in Belfast last June, damaging a door in the process.

He also broke into a solicitors office in Edward Street last February and stole £25 petty cash and caused £3,000 in damage to the office.

And in a spree that ran from April to July last year, several businesses in Belfast were targetted by McKee. Durging this period, he stole clothes worth £1,010 from House of Fraser, sunglasses amounting to more than £1,000 from Boots and perfume and aftershave valued at around £2,800 from Debenhams.

A defence barrister described his client's downfall as "sad" and revealed that he was a young man who once fought for Ireland as a boxer in the 57 kilo category and who "had the potential to go on and fight at the Olympics" but who "descended into drug addiction."

The barrister also told the court there was no sophistication to McKee's criminality, as he was caught on CCTV carrying out most of the offences including "walking into stores, lifting rails of clothes and walking out."

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