A single dad has been handed a suspended prison sentence after stealing clothing worth more than £1,000 to support his kids.
Magistrates heard Colin Pearson, 37, was struggling to pay for essentials and school uniforms for his two children after their mother left them.
The court heard that, as the end of the summer holidays approached, he began shoplifting at Debenhams in desperation.
Ember Wong, prosecuting told Sunderland Magistrates Court that, on August 20, a loss prevention officer spotted Pearson at the department store in Sunderland’s Bridges shopping centre.
Miss Wong said: “He was on duty at 2.45pm when his attention was drawn to a male who had been in the store on several occasions and suspected of theft offences.
“He had been waiting for him to return to the store.”
Pearson was found to have stolen 12 Fred Perry tops - worth £675 and was detained outside the store.
He was arrested, and, while at the police station, he asked for two further thefts from the same store be taken into consideration.
These were committed on August 16 and August 18,
The first theft involved three Fred Perry tops - worth £145 - and the second four Sunderland football shirts and three Fred Perry tops, worth £339.
Pearson, of Deerness Road, Hendon, pleaded guilty to theft.
The offences put Pearson, who has 39 previous thefts on his record, in breach of a conditional discharge.
Anna Haq, defending, said: “Mr Pearson is here to be sentenced for a £675 theft.
“He asked for two further offences to be taken into consideration at the police station.
“Mr Pearson fully accepts he’s gone into the store and taken the items.
“His partner has left him with their two children.
“He has no financial support from the partner who is still claiming the full entitlement in relation to the children.
“All he has is his own individual benefits.
“Over the school holidays, he’s been increasingly worried about the prospect of the children returning to school.
“He has had a lot of costs in relation to school uniforms.”
Pearson was sentenced to seven weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 12 months.
He was also ordered to pay £484 in compensation.