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Husband and wife in court after two-day theft spree in Armagh, Keady and Portadown

Pair targeted outlets at Spires Retail Park while husband stole petrol in Keady

A husband and wife team who went on a two-day crime spree in Armagh and Portadown made off with over £500 in goods and petrol.

At a previous hearing, Armagh Magistrates’ Court heard how the Co Monaghan couple had an “extensive record in the south” and were appearing in relation to a number of theft charges on this side of the border.

Thirty-one-year-old Melissa Christina Ward, and Charles Ward, 34 – both originally from Castleblaney – appeared via video link from Hydebank and Maghaberry respectively, charged with four counts of theft, handling stolen goods and possession of class C drugs.

The pair appeared before the district judge on Tuesday in relation to events which occurred in June this year.

On Saturday, June 16, the couple stole £40 worth of goods from Woods Centra in Portadown.

And the following day they stole numerous items from shops in the Spires Retail Park in Armagh.

These included clothing and a bag worth £301.44 from Sports Direct; clothing to the value of £113 from Peacocks; a paddling pool and three watches worth £47.99 from Argos.

At around 6.55pm on that day police spotted the couple parked at the side of the road and, as officers approached, the two changed seats and Charles Ward handed his co-accused a stolen Visa debit card.

A search of the vehicle was conducted and all suspected stolen items were found.

Police also discovered that neither of the defendants had a driving licence, or were insured to drive the car.

During the search officers also found 27 tablets, later identified as alprazolam, more commonly known as Xanax. Both were subsequently arrested.

Court heard that Charles Ward also faced a further two charges for theft.

Twice – on June 12 and 15 – he made off from a Centra filling station in Keady without paying for petrol.

The total value stolen on these two occasions was around £136.

It was stated in court that both defendants wished to waive there right to a pre-sentence report which narrowed the district judge’s options for disposal.

Charles Ward’s defence counsel stated the defendant had five children and wished to return to the Republic.

Defence barrister David McKeown, who represented Melissa Ward, said since her release on bail the defendant had been living with her parents in Co Fermanagh, adding that this had had a “sobering effect”.

Deputy District Judge Peter Prenter said this was a” very serious matter” and sentenced both to four months in prison, suspended for two years, on all acts of dishonesty.

The pair were also handed one-year conditional discharges on their drug offences and Charles Ward was disqualified from driving for one year.

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