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Thief behind city-wide crime spree sentenced to 10 months in prison

By Alan Erwin

A thief who stole thousands of pounds worth of jewellery and clothing in raids on stores across Belfast has been jailed for 10 months.

Alexander Patterson also took hot-tubs and electrical goods during a five-month crime spree.

The 26-year-old father-of-two, from Cliftonpark Avenue in the north of the city, admitted a catalogue of shoplifting yesterday in a bid to stop his partner leaving him, a judge was told.

Defence counsel John O'Neill said: "She is due to give birth in June and told him, 'If there's any more offending we are finished'."

Belfast Magistrates Court heard the defendant carried out a series of raids between June and November.

He took £1,200 worth of jewellery from an Argento store at the Abbeycentre.

He also stole coats, jackets and more than 20 T-shirts valued at a total of £3,100 during separate raids on an outdoor store in Newtownabbey and TK Maxx on Belfast's Boucher Road.

A further theft of £1,000 worth of sportswear took place at a branch of Sports Direct.

Asda Living was targeted as well, with razors and other electrical goods valued at £1,200 seized. And two inflatable hot-tubs, priced at more than £300 each, were stolen from Homebase on Boucher Road.

Patterson's spree started within days of being put on probation for previous offences.

Mr O'Neill said that he was pleading guilty after his partner's ultimatum.

"Behind every man there's a woman," he added.

"He is indicating that he doesn't want to lose her and if he does commit any further offences he will."

But District Judge Oonagh Mullan ordered the defendant to serve 10 months behind bars.

"Your record is appalling," she said. "If you want to enjoy time with your family, you need to get your act together."

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