A man who was banned from every Lidl store in Northern Ireland as part of bail conditions has pleaded guilty to stealing a £13.50 bottle of vodka from one of their outlets.
Czech national Bedrick Wagner (37), of Clarence Street, Ballymena, swiped the alcohol on February 8 this year.
At Ballymena Magistrates Court earlier this month, District Judge Peter King released the accused on his own bail of £500 with a condition that he was not to enter any Lidl store in Northern Ireland.
At the same court on Thursday, Wagner, who had a record, admitted the offence.
Defence solicitor Stewart Ballentine said the defendant is “totally ashamed of himself”.
Judge King said Wagner was given a suspended sentence in relation to thefts in January and then less than three weeks later he had stolen again. He said he would “stay my hand” until a pre-sentence report is brought to the court in April but warned Wagner he could go to prison.
The January court was told Wagner mounted a series of shoplifting raids, in which he took £2,000 worth of goods.
He was unemployed at the time of the offences and had not attempted to get benefits because he found the process “daunting” due to the language barrier, a defence barrister alleged. Wagner nabbed items worth £2,074 - mostly computer hard drives - on nine occasions between March and December last year at supermarkets in Ballymena and Ballyclare and pleaded guilty to theft.
Defence barrister Stephen Law said in January Wagner had been living in Northern Ireland since 2013.
He said the offences occurred over a six months period when he was out of work.
Mr Law said his client was stealing the high-end items to get money to pay for his rent or else he would have ended up homeless.
Mr Law said Wagner did not apply for benefits as he “found the whole process daunting” because of the “language barrier”.
“He resorted to theft rather than seek benefits,” but then got a job in Antrim town and was “industrious,” he added.