Man accused of Northern Ireland fashion store raids refused bail
An alleged serial thief accused of sophisticated raids on fashion stores across Northern Ireland must remain in custody, a High Court judge ruled on Wednesday.
James McNamara, 56, was refused bail on 20 charges linked to a suspected shoplifting spree where hundreds of pounds worth of designer clothes were stolen.
He was stopped last week in a car fitted with false number plates having been circulated as wanted for arrest for months, prosecutors said.
Pliers, a magnet and a security de-tagging device were recovered from the vehicle.
McNamara, of Hillsborough Road in Carryduff, Co Down, faces multiple counts of theft, going equipped for theft, attempted theft and criminal damage.
The alleged offences were committed between August last year and April 7.
Crown lawyer Conor Maguire said McNamara was identified on CCTV stealing £300 worth of pens from Easons in Belfast city centre in the first raid.
Later that month he allegedly took nine men's jumpers valued at £531 from a Jaeger store at The Outlet retail park in Banbridge.
In February this year he returned to the same shop to take a £99 blazer and £120 jacket without paying, it was claimed.
McNamara is also accused of stealing £240 worth of Ralf Lauren shirts from TK Maxx in Newtownabbey in January.
A further attempted theft of fashion tops valued at £440 was made at a Ballymena branch of the same retailer days before he was arrested, according to Mr Maguire.
Opposing bail, the barrister contended: "It's the prosecution view that this applicant has been a persistent recent offender and has carried out his activities in a relatively sophisticated crime spree.
"It has included the use of false number plates, and a de-tagging device he has used at numerous stores throughout Northern Ireland."
Defence counsel Michael Boyd said McNamara's alleged prolific offending had coincided with the break-up of his marriage.
The barrister argued that his client could be released to live in west Belfast with a daughter who could help reduce any risk of re-offending.
But denying bail, Mrs Justice Keegan said: "I do not consider that she could necessarily control the alleged habitual behaviour of this applicant."