‘Last chance’ for former ‘Mr Ireland’

A former winner of the Mr Ireland Bodybuilding competition was released on bail yesterday, having been told he was being given “one last chance” to clean up his act.

Noel Connolly (41) of Altcar Park appeared at Derry Magistrate’s Court yesterday, having been arrested at Tesco supermarket on Sunday.

The court heard Connolly plead guilty to two charges of shoplifting from the supermarket on Sunday. On the first occasion he stole alcohol worth £11.31 and on the second he stole alcohol worth £12.70.

When presiding judge Anne Marshall asked Connolly’s solicitor if it had been a case that his client had “stolen alcohol, gone home and got drunk and then had gone back out to steal more alcohol”, the solicitor replied that it was.

The court heard that Connolly was currently on bail awaiting sentencing on March 7 and that he had appeared in court in the last two weeks also facing shoplifting charges.

The defendant was also found to be in breach of two suspended sentences.

A police officer told the court that while he was “sympathetic” to the defendant police were objecting to bail based on their belief that he would be at high risk of reoffending.

A defence solicitor told the court his client had a “pock marked record” but had proven that he could stay off alcohol and stay out of trouble for long periods of time.

He said the “wheels started to fall off” his client’s life when he was subjected to intimidation in his home after witnessing a murder in 2008. He had been forced to move and had become isolated.

He asked the court to put his client “under pressure” to stay off the drink and to release him for the weeks before his next hearing. Connolly was released on his own bail of £300.