Sunderland man turned to crime after suffering brutal beating

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A MAN struggling with drink and mental health problems after he was savagely attacked tried to steal almost £1,000-worth of goods from a supermarket.

Keith William Wharton loaded up a trolley with £480 of groceries and alcohol at Asda’s Pennywell store on Monday, August 25, and walked out of the store without paying.

Wharton returned to the shop just hours later and began filling another trolley with items.

Staff had notified police of the earlier theft after seeing Wharton on CCTV and managed to prevent him leaving the store a second time, on this occasion with an estimated £350-worth of goods in a trolley.

Wharton was charged with theft from a shop and attempted theft from a shop.

Prosecutor David Maddison told a hearing at Sunderland Magistrates’ Court: “The first trolley had somewhere in the region of £480-worth of shopping in it.

“Those goods were never recovered and he said he had dropped them off somewhere.

“He did tell the police he was on painkillers and anti-depressants and had drank a couple of pints of cider.”

Wharton pleaded guilty to both offences and also admitted stealing £385-worth of cosmetics from Boots, in Whitley Bay, on Thursday, September 4.

Brian Chapman, defending, told the court that Wharton had been the victim of a horrific beating last year in which he had his wallet stolen and was left for dead.

Attackers Stephen Blyth, Philip Hope and Leslie Swainston all had his blood soaked on their trainers.

Earlier this year at Newcastle Crown Court, Blyth was jailed for nine years, Hope for six years and Swainston for six years.

“In August of last year, Mr Wharton was severely beaten,” said Mr Chapman.

“The case made the front page of the Sunderland Echo.

“At the time of the theft he had been drinking to excess and he is hopeful that through the behavioural therapist he is seeing he will be able to use a detox programme.

“He says he has been making wrong choices recently and getting confused.”

After reports from the Probation Service, chairman of the bench Peter Devere made Wharton, of Barclay Street, Sunderland, the subject of a 12-month community order with supervision. He was also ordered to pay £200 compensation, a fine of £70 and a £20 surcharge.