Serial thief given jail reprieve after moving away from 'negative influences' in Sunderland
A serial thief has avoided going to jail for his latest crimes - after his solicitor argued he hasn't been in trouble for more than two months.
Alcoholic David Holland stole fragrances from a department store, along with various items from people's cars, and was seen carrying a foil-lined box, pliers, a small knife and screwdriver.
However, after moving from Sunderland's Norfolk Hotel and 'away from negative influences' to make a new home in Consett, he recently turned his life around, magistrates were told.
The 31-year-old has now been handed a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.
Prosecutor Glenda Beck said Holland was first spotted taking two bottles of perfume from Debenhams, in The Bridges, Sunderland, at 4.40pm, on December 10 last year. He was arrested and found in possession of a foil-lined box and a pair of pliers.
He told police he has stolen the perfume because he was 'rattling for a drink', the court heard.
Then, at 2.20pm, on December 19, Debenhams staff saw Holland on CCTV, stealing two bottles of men's aftershave.
At 4.45pm, on Decemeber 23, he was back in Debenhams and police were alerted as staff believed him to be under the influence of drugs.
They came across Holland with his foil-lined box, and while they were speaking to him, they were approached by store staff who informed them they had seen him on CCTV on December 18, stealing two watches, worth £60.
Ms Beck said: "He was interviewed on Christmas Eve at Southwick Police Station.
"He told officers he was doing it under duress after a man held a Stanley knife against his throat and told him to go to Debenhams and steal two bottles of aftershave.
"He named the man and said he had approached him at the Norfolk Hotel, where he lived.
"He was also in possession of a screwdriver and a small knife, he said he used to open bottles of alcohol."
The other offences were committed in January, the court heard.
Ms Beck said: "On January 9, police officers were driving along the Great North Road in Newcastle when they saw a man lying on a grassed area on the side of the road.
"He was wearing sunglasses and had a bag over his shoulder."
Ms Beck said the bag included items valued at £700, which did not belong to Holland, including vehicle documents, a watch and other items.
These were later reported stolen from two separate vehicles.
Holland, of Parliament Street, Consett, pleaded guilty to three shop thefts, three counts of going equipped for burglary, two thefts from a motor vehicle and two counts of failing to surrender to bail.
Paul Oxnard, defending, said: "He has pretty much spent a number of years - most of his recent life - in prison and he places himself in danger of going exactly back there today and he understands that."
Mr Oxnard said that when Holland was most recently released from prison, he ended up living at the Norfolk Hotel.
The court heard he has a problem with alcohol, and due to issues with his benefits he started to borrow money from fellow residents, which they 'suggested' he had to pay back.
Mr Oxnard said: "The fact that he has been able to keep out of trouble since January 9, is his way of saying ' I can stay out of trouble if I put my mind to it'.
"He has obtained his own accommodation, he's got himself this address in Consett and has managed to get his benefits sorted out.
"There are still issues with alcohol but he has managed to avoid further offending since the date of his last offence."
Holland was also told to carry out 20 days of a rehabilitation activity requirement and pay £85 costs and £60 compensation.