A judge has told a man found guilty of stealing cigarettes and tobacco from a shop twice in two days that he has avoided jail by “the skin of his teeth”.

Brian John Nathan Cassidy (41) of Erne Park, Kesh entered as a trespasser to the Costcutter on Main Street in Kesh on May 31 and June 1 of this year and took a quantity of cigarettes and tobacco and failed to make any attempt to pay for the items.

After the second occasion police went to Cassidy’s home and the stolen items were recovered and he made a full admission about going into the back area of the shop where he knew he was allowed to go and taking the items.


He told police he was on medication and had drunk a bottle of vodka and saw the back door opened so he went in and took the cigarettes and went back home and the next morning he did exactly the same.

The court also heard that Cassidy was in breach of suspended sentences for drug possession and criminal damage.

Aaron Thompson, representing Cassidy, said his client was under no illusions of the seriousness of the matter and that the 41 year old was “acutely aware” for his liberty.

Lost the plot

In relation to the offence, Mr. Thompson said Cassidy had went on a “48-hour bender” and completely lost the plot.

Referring to the pre-sentence report, Mr. Thompson said his client had a history of drug and alcohol abuse but had been engaging with the community addiction team and had been making progress and that there were growing gaps in the offending in his criminal record.

Mr. Thompson asked the court to possibly look at re-suspending the sentences which were breached.


“The only way I could ask is they are different offences. These offences were so absolutely brazen he goes one day and goes back the next morning still on the bender gets detected. The only saving grace is I know the value is high, all the items were recovered for resale so that at least allows some margin for leniency,” said Mr. Thompson.

He added that his client knows he is “right on the cusp of the prison gate”.

District Judge Steven Keown said Cassidy’s early plea and the contents of the pre-sentence report kept him out of jail by the “skin of his teeth” and not the current issues in prisons during the pandemic which was raised by Mr. Thompson.


Judge Keown said a probation order would be an alternative to custody in terms of any breach or reoffending but added: “When you have a criminal record that is replete with suspended sentences and custody and in breach of suspended sentences at the time of commission of this offence that comment of giving an alternative to custody is in much more sharper focus because if you put a foot wrong on this probation order you will be going into jail.

Last chance saloon

“If you have issues and problems I will give you an opportunity to deal with those with the assistance of probation and it will be you not probation that will be bending over backwards to ensure full compliance and cooperation.”

For the two counts of burglary (non-dwelling), Cassidy was given an 18 month probation order by Judge Keown who warned the 41 year old defendant that this was definitely the “last chance saloon”.