Drunk thief told court: ‘I’ll keep stealing until you lock me up’

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A PROLIFIC offender who carried out a drunken raid at a South Tyneside store has been jailed – after warning magistrates he would keep stealing until he was locked up.

South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court heard that homeless James Burlinson – who was only released from a prison term last month – wanted to go back inside “for a little break”.

JAILED ... James Burlinson carried out a drunken raid on a store.

JAILED ... James Burlinson carried out a drunken raid on a store.

The 58-year-old, who has more than 100 previous convictions, was caught out by shop staff snatching an £8.99 bottle of red wine from Lidl, in Laygate, South Shields, on Thursday.

When arrested, he told police he had no money and intended to drink the wine himself.

Burlinson admitted a charge of shop theft when he appeared at court.

John McGlone, prosecuting, said: “At 2.40pm on Thursday, a member of staff at Lidl was in the store when his attention was drawn to Burlinson.

“He was acting in a drunken manner and was seen to select a bottle of red wine from a table top display and put it in his jacket.

“He then walked past all points of payment with the wine concealed on his person.

“As he was detained by staff, the bottle dropped to the floor and was smashed.

“He was cautioned and arrested by police and in interview admitted stealing the wine. He said he had no money and intended to drink it himself.

“He admitted accidentally dropping the bottle of wine.”

Peter Thubron, defending, said Burlinson had instructed him that he wished to be given a custodial sentence.

Mr Thubron said: “He has 120 convictions for 205 offences.

“Since he was released from his last spell in prison – which he thinks was in September – he has had no fixed abode.

“He has been sleeping rough. He does have alcohol problems. He was absolutely desperate.

“He is asking you to impose a custodial sentence so he can have a bed, get cleaned up and have a little break.

“He has had at least six community orders in the past, but they have not worked. The probation service do not feel he would be a justified expense of public funds.

“He is at the end of the rope as far as getting help.

“It is a very sad situation.

“He instructs me, prison would be the best thing for him.

“He has given me the authority to tell you that if he doesn’t get locked up today, he will go out and steal again until he does get locked up.

“I am afraid we are leaving you with very little option.”

Burlinson was jailed for 16 weeks in August after hurling racist abuse at a doctor and spitting in his face, as he was checking him over at South Shields police station.

Burlinson appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates last November after spitting in the face of a police officer who arrested him for stealing a bottle of rum.

In December last year, he asked to be sent to prison for both his birthday and the Christmas period after committing a shop theft – as he wanted to be off the streets because he was homeless at the time.

It was the second time in six months he had been jailed at his own request, after stating last June he would be unable to comply with the probation service after admitting another shop theft.

Gareth Cracknell, chairman of the magistrates, said: “This is a very sad case.

“You should be doing something to sort yourself out, not going out and stealing to get back to prison.

“This gives us very little option.

“Because of your horrendous record, we will send you to prison.”

Burlinson, of no fixed abode, was given a four-week jail term and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £80, as well as compensation to Lidl of £8.99.

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris