Cheese thief stole Dyson vacuum cleaner to give mother as Christmas present

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A THIEF’S plan to steal a vacuum cleaner to give to his mother as a Christmas present backfired when another crook came along and snaffled it from under his dishonest nose.

Robert Leigh has stashed the £366 Dyson DC50 model he had taken from Sainsbury’s at the Galleries, in Washington, in bushes to retrieve it later.

But when he returned to collect his contraband vacuum, it had been pinched, leaving his mum without her surprise treat, Sunderland magistrates heard.

The 40-year-old was also in court for stealing four blocks of cheese, a tub of cream and a packet of crackers from Heron’s Frozen Foods in Houghton, prosecutor Sarah O’Neill said.

Leigh, of Saint Andrews, Fence Houses, has now been banned from all branches of Sainsbury’s and Heron’s for a month.

He admitted two counts of theft – he now has 25 on his record – and breaching a conditional discharge.

Paul McAllindon, defending, said: “He went into Sainsbury’s to purchase something and on the way out there was a display of hoovers.

“There was no security and he made the decision there and then to take it.

“He intended to give it to his mum as a present. He stashed it. When he went back to get it, it was gone. Someone had taken it. It was a decision made in drink.”

Mr McAllindon said Leigh’s record was “typical” of someone who has had a substance misuse problem for many years.

“Thankfully, for a little while now Robert has been free from heroin,” he said. “He has sometimes turned to drink to supplement his methadone prescription.”

Leigh now lives with his mother, but at the time of the Heron’s incident in June, he had been homeless, Mr McAllindon said. He had therefore stolen foodstuffs to feed himself.

The bench sentenced Leigh to an 18-month community order with supervision and revoked the conditional discharge.

He was ordered to pay £366 in compensation to Sainsbury’s and was excluded from Sainsbury’s and Heron’s Frozen Foods for four weeks.