Sunderland drug addict who tried to steal £1,250 Gucci top gets second chance

A recovering drug addict who turned to shoplifting to fund his habit - including trying to steal a £1,250 Gucci top - has been given a second chance by magistrates.

Tuesday, 14th August 2018, 6:00 am
South Shields Magistrates' Court.

Graham Cotton, of Cairo Street, Hendon, admitted stealing the top from Flannels in the Metrocentre and two Hugo boss shirts worth £260 from Fenwick’s in Newcastle when he appeared at South Shields Magistrates court.

Lee Poppett, prosecuting, told the court the goods had been recovered in both cases and although the Gucci top had been damaged by the removal of a security tag, there was no claim for compensation.

The court heard 37-year-old Cotton had 46 previous convictions for a total of 91 offences, including 53 of theft, and was currently serving a community order.

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Probation officer Paul Grace told the court: “Mr Cotton has an historic and long-standing substance misuse problem.

“He is someone who has been through periods of stability and abstinence but also periods of varying degrees of dependence.”

Cotton was aware he was facing a term in prison: “He accepts that is something that is going to be considered,” said Mr Grace.

“He is realistic. He knows options are running out for him and options are running out for the court.”

A prison sentence would cost Cotton his accommodation and was likely to undo the progress he had made under the current order, said Mr Grace: “He is essentially going to be a target for people who push substances in custody and he would probably be a relatively easy target.”

Chris Wilson, for Cotton, said his offending was driven by his addiction: “That cycle has to be broken,” he said.

“Mr Grace has not said he is failing to keep appointments - he is keeping appointments, he is engaging and addressing the needs he has.

“He knows what he needs to do. He needs help, he wants help - a custodial sentence would endanger the significant progress he has made.”

Cotton had co-operated with the police, made full admissions, and deserved credit for pleading guilty, said Mr Wilson. He had not realised how much the Gucci top was actually worth.

Magistrates agreed to give Cotton a chance to continue with the progress he had made.

Chairman of the bench Mrs P Morris said: “For each offence, you will be given 12 weeks custody, to run concurrently. This will be suspended for a period of 18 months.

“This is to allow all the work you are doing with the probation service to continue.

“But you have to be aware, should you reoffend, that this suspended sentence could be activated.”