A married pair of “freegans” who stole waste food from bins outside a Tesco store have been back in court after stealing nine bottles of wine from the same supermarket.
Paul and Kerry Barker were spotted by police shortly after 10am on Richard Street near Tesco in Hetton on June 7 this year.
The couple have been in custody since June 27 after not turning up to their original court date and say they had been living a freegan lifestyle.Prosecutor Michael Bunch
The couple, from Caroline Street in the town, were carrying a shopping basket full of wine and were in the process of hiding the bottles in their clothing when they were arrested for suspicious activity.
The pair hit the headlines in May this year when they were both handed an absolute discharge for stealing a pallet of out of date food from the store.
Michael Bunch, prosecuting, told Newcastle Crown Court: “When the arresting police officer asked what they were up to, Kerry said that it was her who had stolen the wine and that her husband, Paul had nothing to do with it as he was waiting outside.
“CCTV footage from the store showed Mrs Barker taking the wine bottles from the store.
“Upon interview Mr Barker said that he had been outside of the store looking for cigarette ends to smoke, he then came across Mrs Barker and helped her with the items.
“Mrs Barker admitted what she did and said that she stole the wine as they were desperate and only had 13 pence to their name.
“The couple have been in custody since June 27 after not turning up to their original court date and say they had been living a freegan lifestyle.”
Kerry Barker, 30, admitted theft and Paul Barker, 39, pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods at a previous hearing.
Jamie Adams, defending Kerry Barker, said that she had been a heroin addict for a long time but is currently on Methadone treatment and at the time of the theft her benefits had been stopped.
He told the court: “Her benefits were stopped for six months after not turning up to her appointments but she insists it was because she was taking care of her children.
“She is an intelligent woman but very much at the mercy of the addiction she has.
“However, she is making a lot of progress by lowering the amount of Methadone she takes.
“Because she has achieved this she is now confident that she can stay out of trouble and wants to form a bond with her children who are now in the care of a relative, she is not completely without hope.”
Stuart Graham, defending Paul Barker, said that the defendant was also not without hope even though it was his fourth appearance in court this year for shop theft.
He said: “He has a strong work ethic and has done apprenticeships in the past and worked at a local needle exchange where he helped other addicts through their problems.
“He has recently been offered a job and says that at the time of the offence he had no money at all which is a terrible way to live.
“He is willing to do what is necessary to succeed and he has no violence on his record and is not a nasty person.”
The couple’s sentencing has been deferred until November 30 when their probation runs out.
Recorder Paul Reid told them: “You have both been given your absolute final chance and deferring a sentencing is not something I do very often.
“If you enter any shop with dishonest intentions you will be brought back to this court and you both must be available at your home at all times.”