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Belfast man accused of year-long shoplifting spree must seek specialist treatment, court orders

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Aaron Douglas is to take immediate steps to deal with his dependency as part of conditions under which he was granted bail.

Aaron Douglas is to take immediate steps to deal with his dependency as part of conditions under which he was granted bail.

Aaron Douglas is to take immediate steps to deal with his dependency as part of conditions under which he was granted bail.

A gambling addict accused of stealing thousands of pounds worth of goods in a year-long shoplifting spree across Belfast must seek specialist treatment within a week, a High Court judge has ordered.

Aaron Douglas is to take immediate steps to deal with his dependency as part of conditions under which he was granted bail.

The 25-year-old, of Sandy Row in the city, allegedly raided stores selling speciality meats, bicycles and vacuum cleaners.

Police arrested him after he was found hiding under a car, prosecutors said previously.

Douglas is charged with nine counts of theft and a further criminal damage to a jacket on display in one sports shop.

The alleged offences cover a 12-month period from May 2016 to May 2017.

It was claimed that he stole £719 worth of razor blades from a Tesco branch on the Castlereagh Road, and make-up valued at £472 from Boots on the Cregagh Road.

He also allegedly took up to £600 of groceries from a Co-op, and a £425 bike stocked by Halfords.

Prosecution counsel Kate McKay outlined further charges involving £80 worth of speciality meat from an Iceland store, and a £110 designer jacket on sale at Cotswold in the city centre.

The total value of alleged thefts and criminal damage came to nearly £3,000.

He was said to have been detained by officers on patrol in east Belfast who spotted him dropping a bag containing a drone allegedly stolen from B&M Bargains.

Conn O'Neill, defending, confirmed that Douglas is continuing to contest charges against him.

The barrister also stressed his client has a problem with betting.

Called to give evidence, Douglas's father pledged: "If he gets bail he's going to start Gamblers Anonymous to try to get help for it."

Granting the application, Mr Justice Treacy resisted a prosecution request to ban the accused from all retail premises.

But the judge directed: "I'm going to require him to attend with his GP within seven days of being released on bail for the purpose of receiving a referral to the appropriate body dealing with gambling addiction."

Belfast Telegraph