DOZY burglar Stephen McCrellis who was found sleeping on a pavement surrounded by stolen goods has avoided spending Christmas behind bars.
A trail of stolen items also led back to the shop he had targeted. The 22-year-old from Coleraine was found asleep in centre of the town at 3.15am in February this year, the local Magistrates Court was told on Monday.
The circumstances of McCrellis’ detection prompted District Judge Peter King to say at earlier hearing: “Apart from having a sign around his neck saying ‘Please Arrest Me’ he couldn’t have made this much easier for the police”. McCrellis, of Gransden Court, pleaded guilty to the burglary of a shop in Coleraine where he stole, grinders, lighters, bongs and cigarette papers.
A prosecutor said that at 3.15am on February 25 police received a report from a concerned member of the public that a male was lying on a pavement. When police arrived they found McCrellis was asleep but had a “bag of bongs” in his possession and was surrounded by “drug paraphernalia”.
Officers also noted a “trail of items” leading back to the shop. The defendant was under the influence of either drink or drugs and was unable to account for the items.
When police checked a shop, which they knew sold such items, they discovered a window pane had been smashed and blood on glass was traced to McCrellis whose clothes also contained broken glass.
During interview he told police he had been drinking Buckfast since 5pm and smoked cannabis and his next memory was “waking up at the police station” and he didn’t know how he came to be in possession of the items. The items were returned to the shop by police.
Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said at the time his client was in a “bad place” and was abusing drink and drugs but had now sought help for his addictions and had “turned his life around”. The lawyer said McCrellis had got himself into a “dangerous” state as a result of the “cocktail” of drink and drugs.
Mr Ballentine said McCrellis had a good job and “hopefully this was just a blip”. At Monday’s Court, District Judge Liam McNally said it was a “serious charge” and sentenced the defendant to four months in prison, suspended for two years, and also ordered him to pay £150 compensation.