A CHRONIC alcoholic asked magistrates to send him to jail – because he wants to spend his birthday and Christmas behind bars.
Homeless James Burlinson is one of the borough’s most prolific petty offenders with more than 100 convictions for crimes, such as theft from shops and being drunk and disorderly.
Yesterday his solicitor, Angus Westgarth, told magistrates in South Tyneside that his client would continue to commit offences and be a nuisance to society – unless they sent him to prison.
The bench duly obliged and sentenced him to 10 weeks in jail.
After the decision, Burlinson thanked the bench as he was led away from the dock.
In addition to spending the festive period at Her Majesty’s pleasure, Burlinson will be in his cell when he marks his 58th birthday on December 19.
It is the second time in six months that Burlinson has been jailed at his own request.
In June, he was jailed for eight weeks for shoplifting after instructing his solicitor to tell magistrates he would rather have a short period of imprisonment than work with the probation service, and that there was “no way in the world” he could do unpaid work.
For his latest offence he was caught on Saturday night attempting to steal a bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey from the Tesco supermarket on Newcastle Road, South Shields.
Angus Westgarth, defending, said: “This offence was a cry for help. I know it’s an unusual suggestion to ask for my client to be sent to prison, but the truth is, he wants to be incarcerated for his 58th birthday on December 19 and the coming season.
“If he is released, he will just continue to offend.
“He is homeless and a chronic alcoholic. If he is not sent to prison he will be back on the streets, where I don’t know how he has survived so far.
“Mr Burlinson feels that the end has come as far as he’s concerned.”
Magistrates were told Burlinson was spotted by a duty manager at the spirits section of the store at 11pm on Saturday.
He was seen to put the whiskey bottle in his jacket and passed the till without any attempt to make a payment. After he was arrested by a police officer outside, Burlinson said he went into the store with no money and with the intention of stealing.
The offence, which he admitted, was his 34th for theft. The court also heard he was in breach of four conditional discharges, two for offences of theft and two for being drunk and disorderly.
He was sentenced to 10 weeks for a “flagrant disregard of court orders”.
Neighbourhood Inspector Peter Sutton, said: “Persistent offenders who fail to change their criminal ways will undoubtedly end up in prison. Shoplifting is not a victimless crime – it is a crime that impacts on everyone.
“This case should come as a warning to those intent on stealing from stores in South Tyneside, that we are watching you and you will be arrested and prosecuted.”
PROLIFIC offender James Burlinson now has 112 offences to his name.
Some of his most recent crimes and sentences are:
* November 5, 2013 – He was arrested for stealing a bottle of rum from Marks & Spencer, South Shields, and spitting at a police officer’s face while in a holding cell at the town’s police station.
He was fined £30 with £40 costs and was ordered to pay £50 compensation to the officer.
* October 8, 2013 – He stole cider from the One Stop store in Stanhope Road, South Shields, and was sentenced to a nine-month conditional discharge.
* August 14, 2013 – Burlinson stole a bottle of wine from Marks & Spencer in King Street, South Shields.
He received a six-month conditional discharge and was ordered to pay £7.49 compensation.
* June 28, 2012 – Arrested in Baltic Court, South Shields, for swearing at police officers.
He was sentenced to a six-month conditional discharge with £85 costs.
* June 12, 2012 – Burlinson asked magistrates to put him behind bars because it was his “only option”.
He pleaded guilty to two thefts from the Asda and Morrisons’ stores in South Shields.
He was sentenced to eight weeks in custody.