A FORMER drugs worker stole meat to pay for heroin, a court heard.
Gary Jacob broke a five-year clean slate when he helped himself to four frozen legs of lamb, from Asda in Sunderland.
But the hapless thief was spotted on CCTV leaving the store in Leechmere without paying for the £64 haul.
Police traced the 45-year-old through his car registration number after the offence on February 8.
Unemployed Jacob, of Mainsforth Terrace West, Hendon, pleaded guilty to theft at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court.
Paul Anderson, prosecuting, said Jacob had 26 previous convictions.
Defence solicitor Heather Bolton said Jacob relapsed into drug use after turning his life around, which saw him working as a volunteer counsellor for a city-based service called Voice.
She said: “He volunteered for Voice and did it for three years but due to Government cutbacks, Voice disappeared in the Sunderland area.
“Mr Jacob’s benefits were stopped after he failed a medical.
“He appealed and that was successful and he received a lump sum.
“Temptation got the better of him and he went back to using heroin.”
But now Jacob was working voluntarily with Counted 4 and DISC drugs counselling services and had been prescribed methadone, she added.
“He was on a low dose of methadone which has now been upped and he is stable on that.
“This is his first offence in five years,” Mrs Bolton said, “so perhaps you can deal with this by way of a financial penalty.”
Magistrates said they were “disappointed” to see Jacob back in court.
He was given a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £64 compensation to Asda and a £15 victim surcharge.
No order to pay court costs was made.