Belfast man with 335 convictions avoids jail over steak thefts
A serial thief with more than 330 previous convictions has avoided a return to jail for twice stealing steaks from a Belfast garage.
Michael McNally, 33, was given a six-month suspended sentence after a court was told he acted in desperation over the holiday period.
Defence solicitor Pearse MacDermott said: "His benefits didn't come through in time for Christmas, he had no money and he stole these streaks to eat."
McNally, of Clifton Park Avenue in the city, pleaded guilty to two counts of thefts.
Belfast Magistrates' Court heard he raided a filling station on the Antrim Road on December 27 and 30. Meat valued at £15.96 was taken on both occasions.
With McNally having amassed 335 prior convictions, Mr MacDermott described his record as "appalling".
But he argued that the defendant has been plagued with problems since he suffered a brain injury from sniffing glue as a teenager.
"He's been diagnosed with a personality disorder and has lived a semi-nomadic lifestyle," the lawyer said.
"This was an act of desperation by Mr McNally, it's a very sad case where someone has fallen through the cracks, had no money and was stealing food."
Deputy District Judge Laura Ievers imposed two months imprisonment for the new thefts.
She also activated a four-month suspended sentence for previous drugs and assault offences.
However, she decided not to send McNally back to jail.
Judge Ievers confirmed instead that the total six-month term will be suspended for two years.
As McNally left the dock he pledged to stay out of trouble in future.
Belfast Telegraph Digital