Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland mum went on 'near-professional' shoplifting spree, court hears

Kathleen McDonagh appeared before Belfast High Court (stock photo)
Kathleen McDonagh appeared before Belfast High Court (stock photo)

By Alan Erwin

A mother allegedly carried out shoplifting sprees on a near-professional scale across parts of Northern Ireland, the High Court has heard.

Caroline Kathleen McDonagh, 28, is accused of stealing hundreds of pounds worth of goods in raids on stores including Tesco, Asda and Next.

During a bail hearing prosecutors claimed she targeted retailers in Enniskillen and Cookstown, using a pram carrying her new-born baby as part of the latest theft.

Crown lawyer Adrian Higgins contended: "This applicant is shoplifting, it's done almost to a professional level and she is part of a criminal gang who targets stores across the south of the province."

McDonagh, of Riverview in Augher, Co Tryone, faces seven counts of theft and one attempted theft.

The alleged offences relate to incidents in December 3, 2018, July 31, August 1 and October 25.

Charges include stealing nearly £670 worth of goods from Tesco, baby clothing valued at £260 from Next, and trying to take £293 in items from Asda.

The other stores allegedly raided were Poundland, River Island, City Mobile and Claire's Accessories.

In one incident the accused was identified on store CCTV footage while she was heavily pregnant, according to Mr Higgins.

He claimed she was also involved in taking a trolley "overflowing" with goods from Tesco.

Referring to the most recent alleged theft at Next, McDonagh allegedly lifted baby clothing and placed it on the handlebar of her pram before exiting the children's department.

Defence barrister Craig Patton argued that his client should be released to care for her three-month old child.

But Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan adjourned the application for reports to be provided.

He said: "We are coming up to a time (of year) where offending of this sort is particularly prevalent for a whole range of reasons."

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