Northern Ireland

Gambling addict defied ban on entering pharmacy to steal more than £1,000 worth of cosmetics

Accused cleared out rows of products

The bulk of evidence has already been heard in the Coagh inquest, apart from Soldier F’s testimony
The accused cleared out rows of products, the court heard (Liam McBurney/PA)

A gambling addict defied a ban on entering a pharmacy to steal more than £1,000 worth of cosmetics, the High Court heard.

Prosecutors said John Coyle cleared out rows of products during the first of two raids on a branch of Boots in Derry.

The 52-year-old returned to the same store days later to take another batch of items valued at hundreds of pounds, a judge was told.

Coyle, of St Eithne’s Park in the city, faces two counts of burglary from a non-dwelling.

The court heard he is currently subject to a barring order which prohibits him from entering Boots in the Foyleside Shopping Centre.

But on March 19 he allegedly went into the store carrying a shopping bag and headed for the cosmetics section.

“He emptied rows of products into the bag and started walking towards the exit before returning to the same aisle and taking more items,” a Crown lawyer said.

The goods stolen during the incident had a total value of £1,200.

On March 22 Coyle returned to the same branch with a shopping bag, filled it with another £200 worth of cosmetics and left without paying, according to the prosecution.

Clothes matching those worn in the two raids were discovered during a subsequent search at his home.

Coyle made admissions in police interviews, but claimed to be unaware that the banning order was still active, the court was told.

His barrister argued that although technically classed as burglaries, the offences really amounted to shoplifting.During the hearing counsel was asked what had motivated the thefts.

“It’s an addiction, but it’s gambling, not drink or drugs,” he replied.

Adjourning Coyle’s application for bail, Madam Justice McBride suggested that obtaining a report on efforts to tackle the addiction may help his bid to be released.

She observed: “This is a growing problem and it is affecting people who would otherwise not have a criminal record.”