07 Jul 2022

Female duo in Derry court accused of shoplifting spree

Alleged organised crime gang member remanded in custody

Derry Magistrates Court

Derry Magistrates Court

One of two women, described as being members of 'an organised stealing to order gang,' was remanded in custody at Derry Magistrate's Court yesterday on a number of theft charges.

Nadine Johnson (37), of Elaghmore Park in the Galliagh area of the city, appeared charged with four counts of stealing alcohol and clothing on dates in June this year.

She was also charged with going equipped for theft with pliers, a hammer and tinfoil on Monday of this week, June 20, and a charge of handling stolen goods on the same date.

Ciara Stokes (34), of Irwin Crescent in Claudy, was charged with six counts of theft on dates in May and June, going equipped for theft Monday last and handling stolen goods.

Connecting both accused to the charges, a PSNI officer opposed bail telling the court both women were arrested after police stopped a vehicle in the Crescent Link retail park in the Waterside area of the city.

The officer told the court both women were linked to an organised crime gang involved in thefts from shops across the North.

He said Johnson was the driver and Stokes was the passenger and a large quantity of stolen goods was found in the vehicle. 
The court heard that there were no receipts for the goods and police also found pliers, a and 'a large amount of tinfoil.'

Police also found lists of names in the vehicle which were believed to be shopping lists for stealing to order.

The court was told Stokes was identified on CCTV at Tescos in the city on May 4 stealing alcohol valued at £129.  On the same dau, she was identified in Tescos in Limavady involved in the theft of alcohol valued at £395 and again on June 7 in the same store stealing goods valued at £176.

The court heard that on June 14 and 15, she was identified as being involved in the theft of alcohol valued at £654 from Tescos in Cookstown.

The officer described Stokes as 'a prolific shoplifter' and told the court she made no comment when interviewed.

As regards Johnson, the officer said she admitted being involved and said she stole to feed her drug habit.

The court heard that while Stokes was believed to be behind the thefts Johnson was usually the driver and received a cut of the money.

The officer told the court Johnson was 'fully involved and fully aware' of what was going on and said those involved were members of a 'steal to order gang.'

Bail was opposed due to the risk of re-offending and the court was told Stokes had 60 previous convictions.

Defence solicitor, Paddy MacDermott for Johnson, said his client had 'co-operated fully' with police.

He said she now had to face the consequences of being involved in the thefts.

The solicitor asked for bail with strict conditions.

Seamus Quigley, defence solicitor for Stokes, said his client faced 'significant charges.'

He said it could be some time before the case came to court.

District Judge Barney McElholm released Johnson on bail on condition she observed a curfew, had no contact with her co-accused and did not enter any shop except for the EuroSpar (Co-Op) store in Galliagh.

She will appear again on July 20.

As regards, Stokes the judge said the difference with her was that she had 60 previous convictions, 14 of them for theft.

He said she was currently on an enhanced combination order which she had failed to complete and so he added there was only one place she was going and that was custody.

Stokes was remanded in custody to appear again on July 8.

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