A 52-YEAR- OLD man with a long term alcoholism problem and 200 previous convictions has been given a chance to avoid prison for shoplifting beer.John Shelly, Maple House Hostel, North Circular Road, Dublin pleaded guilty to stealing beer to the value of €14 from Spar, Dublin Street, Balbriggan on August 7. The court was told that of the 182 Irish criminal convictions and 18 convictions from abroad, Shelly has seven priors in relation to theft. Paddy Jackson, counsel acting for the defendant, said that his client has been ' battling alcoholism' for a very long time and for periods in his life has been homeless. However, Mr Jackson said that for the past three months, his client has been living in a hostel with a strict no alcohol policy. Shelly has not been drinking during that time and is carrying out odd jobs with the hope of getting employment. Judge Dermot Demspey ordered the defendant to carry out 100 hours of communtiy service work in lieu of two months in prison. And Judge Dempsey also ordered him to pay 60 expenses to the shopowner who had to come to court but was not then needed to give evidence because of the defendant's guilty plea.