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Man banned from every shop, pub, cafe, restaurant and takeaway in Northern Ireland

A judge has banned a man from entering all shops and business premises in Northern Ireland.

District Judge  Barney McElholm said he was imposing the ban on Thomas Stokes (18), from Cornshell Field, in Londonderry,  to protect the business community from his criminality.

The defendant, who was arrested at his home on Tuesday, March 28, as part of an ongoing police investigation, appeared in Londonderry Magistrate's Court charged with committing sixty-three offences of possessing and passing counterfeit £50 notes and with theft offences. He denies committing the offences between August 10 of last year and March 7 of  this year.

A police officer told the court that as part of a large scale police investigation the defendant's home was searched on Wednesday. During the search operation officers found thirty-two counterfeit £50 notes under the defendant's bed. The notes were contained in envelopes which had both the receiver's address and the sender's address on them.

The officer said that so far sixteen local business people had made complaints to the police about £50 counterfeit notes. He said the value of the items stolen as a result of the passing of the counterfeit notes was, so far, £1,400.

The police witness said the witnesses in the case were all police officers who had identified the defendant on CCTV footage taken from sixteen separate business premises. Opposing bail the officer said if freed he believed the defendant would obtain further counterfeit notes and re-offend.

Applying for bail solicitor Oliver Roche said he accepted the defendant faced a large volume of charges but he said there was a presumption of innocence and a presumption of bail. He believed all of the counterfeit £50 notes had been seized.

However the District Judge said there was no way of knowing that.

"We know thirty-two counterfeit notes have been taken out of circulation by the police. He obviously got these notes from someone. What is to stop him from going back to get some more? The seizing of the thirty-two counterfeit notes by the police does not mean the entire stash has been seized", he said.

The police witness said he believed four other people were involved in the offending and that up to thirty-five separate businesses had been effected.

The District Judge released the defendant on his own bail of £1,000 together with a cash surety of £750 and adjourned the case until April 5.

Imposing the Northern Ireland wide ban on the defendant the judge said: "By that I mean shops, licenced premises, cafes, restaurants and takeaways. He will have to 'phone for a takeaway".

He also ordered that the defendant should be electronically tagged and that he should not be in possession of a bank note of a greater value than £10.

He also put in place a twelve hour curfew.

"I am departing from the usual night time curfew and I am imposing a 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. curfew to co-incide with shop opening hours", he said.

Mr McElholm warned the defendant that if he breached any of his bail conditions he would be remanded in custody.

Belfast Telegraph