A DAD went on a shoplifting spree after a foreign trip in search of work turned sour and he returned to Sunderland empty handed and in debt.
Sunderland magistrates were told how Ernest Bulmer Jenkins headed to Sweden last year hoping to find a job, but came home after a month to find his benefits had been stopped.
Because he had not been in touch with the authorities he was left with no income for seven months and was forced to borrow money to survive.
The 30-year-old has now been handed a three-month suspended prison sentence after turning to crime to repay his debts.
Prosecutor Jeanette Smith said Jenkins, of Athol Road, Hendon, took £100-worth perfume from Debenhams on October 21.
He was arrested and released on bail, but on December 17, Jenkins pilfered £22.95 of meat from Hendon’s HJ Foodstores. Having been bailed again, he and two others went into Sainsbury’s in Silksworth Lane, on January 6, and took £410 of drinks.
None of the items were recovered, Mrs Smith added.
Bulmer admitted three counts of theft and asked for another three – relating to the theft of £285 from Boots – to be taken into consideration.
“Around eight or nine months ago, Mr Jenkins went to Sweden to stay with family members,” his solicitor Heather Bolton said.
“He was there for four weeks, but returned to Sunderland because he was unable to find work.
“He was sanctioned for not going to the benefits agency for that four weeks, the period when he was away. For seven or so months he’s had no income whatsoever.
“He was borrowing money from friends and acquaintances. He didn’t borrow from loan sharks, but he did have some pressure on him to repay his debt.”
Having last been convicted of theft in July 2012, there had been a gap in similar offences since 2007, Mrs Bolton said.
“The offending seized when he met his partner and had his children,” she added. “He has reconciled with his partner and is staying with her at her address.”
The bench suspended the jail sentence for 12 months, and told Jenkins to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.
Out of the £817.95 owed to the stores involved, he was told to pay just £322.95 in compensation, due to his limited means.