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Sunderland criminal who started at 11 told to give up ‘lifetime of thievery’ after more than 200 offences – with latest just weeks before 73rd birthday

An ageing Sunderland criminal has been urged to give up a “lifetime of thievery” after clocking up his latest offence – just six weeks before his 73rd birthday.

By Gareth Crickmer
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 4:55 am

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Magistrates told grey-haired Thomas Mason, who committed his first offence aged 11, it was time he went straight.

For his latest crime, Mason, 72, of Beechwood Street, Ashbrooke, targeted Tesco’s store in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.

But he failed to make it past the checkouts, being stopped by security with a £186 goods’ haul.

South Tyneside Magistrates Court.

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Prosecutor Glenda Beck told South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court he pulled from his bag two bottles each of Jack Daniel’s and soft drink Lucozade.

He also had sandwiches, a leg of lamb and a joint of beef when caught on Tuesday, May 31.

Mrs Beck said: “The witness describes seeing him selecting a bottle of spirit from a shelf and attempting to remove the security tag.

“He then walks past the checkout and behind the tills, before pausing for a few seconds and then walking towards the witness.

“He made no attempt to pay for the items. The witness detained him and asked him to go to the office.

“From his bag, he produced two bottles of JD, two bottles of Lucozade, sandwiches, a leg of lamb and a joint of beef.

“He has 205 theft or kindred offences and was last before the courts in 2019.”

Defence solicitor Harry Burn said Mason, who pleaded guilty to theft from a shop, was vulnerable and had been coerced by others into committing the crime.

He added: “I’m saying to this gentleman, ‘What on earth is going on?’ For two years, nothing has been going on. He’s 73 next month.

“He’s clearly vulnerable to certain groups and has clearly been coerced. He says that he was pleased that he was caught.”

John Lee, chair of the bench, told Mason, who owes the court £2,480 in past fines and costs: “You’ve been at it since you were 11.

“That’s a lifetime of thievery, to put it bluntly. It’s about time you gave it up, don’t you think?”

Mason was given 12-month conditional discharge, with a £22 victim surcharge.