Belfast Telegraph

Alleged thief 'cleaned out' Belfast stores to clear drug debt, court told

Belfast High Court
Belfast High Court

Alan Erwin

An alleged serial thief "cleaned out" stores in Belfast in a bid to clear his drugs debt, the High Court heard today.

Paul Campbell, 28, is accused of stealing more than £4,300 worth of perfume in repeated raids on Debenhams.

He is further charged with taking clothing valued at nearly £1,000 from a branch of Marks & Spencer.

Campbell, of Pilot Street in the city, also allegedly targeted Asda, Superdrug, Homebase and H&M.

Razor blades worth £924 in total, two televisions valued at £798, speakers costing £400, and power washers selling at just over £1,000 all formed part of his crime spree, according to the prosecution case.

Campbell faces a total of 19 counts of theft over a period between July and December 2019.

He is also charged with burglary and possession of Pregabalin drugs.

During a bail application Mr Justice McAlinden noted: "He seems to like perfumes of various types."

Defence barrister John O'Connor told the court the alleged thefts were linked to a drugs debt.

Campbell was instructed by a gang to steal amounts of a particular fragrance or a rack of coats to "wipe out" some of what was owed, he contended.

At one stage the accused was attacked and sustained severe mouth injuries.

But according to counsel he has since been informed that the debt is no longer outstanding.

The judge then asked: "To fund his drug problem and pay off his debt he was engaged in cleaning out various Belfast stores?

"In essence what you're saying is the risk of re-offending is reduced because he had a bit of a battering and paid back some of the money and they are no longer looking for him."

Adjourning the bail application, he indicated that all Magistrates' Court proceedings should be dealt with before any decision is made about releasing Campbell.

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