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Asylum seeker stole coats to feed himself, court told

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Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

Belfast Magistrates' Court (Niall Carson/PA)

A thief stopped on a bicycle in Belfast with a pile of stolen coats planned to sell them to feed himself, a court heard today.

Asylum seeker Karim Bayou was given a four-month suspended jail term for carrying out the raid on a city centre shop.

The 34-year-old Algerian national pleaded guilty to the theft of four coats valued at £440 from the Seasalt Cornwall store on January 31.

Belfast Magistrates' Court police were alerted that a man was cycling on Bankmore Street with a number of jackets over the handlebars.

When Bayou was stopped at Donegall Pass he initially claimed that he bought the coats, which still had price tags attached, from an unknown man.

But inquiries established he had parked his bike outside the store on Arthur Street earlier that day, entering and selecting the items before leaving without paying.

A defence solicitor confirmed Bayou, with an address at Springfield Road in the city, is currently seeking asylum.

"He's receiving £37 a week, he stole these coats to sell on and make some money for food," the lawyer added.

Imposing four months imprisonment, suspended for two years, District Judge Liam McNally said Bayou was entitled to credit for admitting the theft of the recovered goods.

Belfast Telegraph