Serial shoplifter getting increasingly aggressive with staff

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A serial alcohol shoplifter is becoming increasingly abusive towards staff at shops in the city where he steals alcohol, a judge noted at Galway District Court.

Michael Dalton (45), with a former address at Abbey House, Upper Newcastle in the city, pleaded guilty to a large number of charges for stealing alcohol, public drunkenness, and threatening or abusive behaviour.

He received a total of 12 months in prison at Galway District Court for these, which took place at shops around the city centre, along with a large number of concurrent sentences.

The offences before the court consisted mainly of stealing alcohol and using abusive or language between July and October of this year.

There were a total of eight theft charges before the court for stealing alcohol from supermarkets and newsagents in Galway City.

There were also a large number of public order charges for being drunk in public which were not connected with any theft charges.

Judge Mary Fahy said that she would be taking all of these into consideration as a whole rather than hearing the facts, as it would take up too much of the court’s time.

The judge added that there is no way that he would be able to pay any fines, so he was going to receive a prison sentence for the thefts.

The offences for which he received consecutive prison sentences included four months each for stealing wine from Londis in Newcastle and Spar on Mainguard Street on July 12 and 17.

A one month consecutive sentence was imposed for stealing wine from Centra on Foster Street, which he drank in the store, with another month for stealing two bottles of whiskey and a bottle of cider from Dunnes Stores in Eyre Square Shopping Centre.

Several of these thefts were accompanied by charges of being drunk in public or using threatening, abusive, or insulting words or behaviour that could result in a breach of the peace.

Dalton received a further two months in prison for yelling abuse at the staff of Lidl on the Headford Road when caught shoplifting. He told the staff of the discount supermarket, “I’m Irish, ye are foreign c***s.”

There was also one criminal damage charge before the court for throwing a rock through the window of Abbey House at 11:20pm on the night of July 8 after being told he was not welcome anymore, for which he received a concurrent one month sentence.

The court heard that Dalton has a long history of alcohol thefts, with Judge Fahy noting that it’s worrying that they seem to involve an increasing level of abuse towards staff.

“Mr Dalton increasingly seems to be getting more personally abusive to staff at these stores,” she said, adding “A lot of these shops are staffed by young people, who are confronted by this, and it must be very frightening for them.”

Defence solicitor Mr John Martin acknowledged that his client’s alcohol issues have “increased greatly” recently.

The 12 month prison sentence was backdated to October 26, when Dalton went into custody on these matters.

Recognisance was fixed in the event of an appeal, with a €400 bond and €600 independent surety, half of which were to be lodged with the court.