A THIEF who stole more than £300-worth of goods during raids at two stores to feed his drug habit has been told by magistrates he was “very lucky” to avoid jail.
Paul Henderson snatched four bottles of vodka and two bottles of after-shave, together worth more than £200, from Asda in Boldon on Tuesday, July 22.
He then went on to steal three bottles of whisky, together valued at £107, from Morrisons in Jarrow on Monday, August 4.
The 34-year-old, of Arnold Street, Boldon Colliery, had admitted both offences at a previous hearing at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
He also asked for two other shoplifting offences, one of £25 worth of meat from a Co-op store in Shiney Row on February 6 and another £35 of meat from Sainsbury’s in Durham on June 8 to be taken into consideration.
He was back at court yesterday for sentencing where magistrates handed him a total of 24 weeks in custody for the thefts - but agreed to suspended the term for 12 months.
But Henderson was warned he must comply with a nine-month drug rehabilitation requirement – or face being put behind bars.
Jeanette Smith, prosecuting, said: “The goods were recovered from the theft in Asda but not from the three other thefts.
“I would ask for compensation of £167 for those thefts.”
Michael Robinson, defending, said Henderson had a history of drug abuse dating back to when he was a teenager.
Mr Robinson said: “He has switched between saying ‘I need to stay off the drugs’ and has pursued that for a time, but at other times the drugs have taken over his life.
“It appears he needs the intervention of the probation service.
Russell Hewitson, chairman of the magistrates, told Henderson: “We were seriously considering imposing an immediate prison sentence.
“You are very lucky that we have taken the view that we can suspend it.”