A PROLIFIC thief was given a suspended prison sentence by a judge – and told it will be a “miracle” if he stays out of jail.
Craig Nicholson was told he has an “absolutely appalling record” by District Judge John Foster at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday, but not jailed.
The 34-year-old admitted a shoplifting offence and eight charges of interfering with a motor vehicle, as well as breaching a conditional discharge from an earlier shop theft.
Nicholson, who the court heard has been living in a cemetery, was given two consecutive 13-week prison sentences for the thefts and eight six-week prison sentences for the vehicle charges. All were suspended for 12 months.
District Judge Foster said: “You have an absolutely appalling record, and you know that as well as I do.
“I’ve given you credit for pleading guilty, but this has to be a prison sentence, which I’m going to suspend for 12 months.
“If you keep out of trouble for that amount of time you will not go to prison – but if you manage that it will be a miracle.
“If you do end up back in court, your sentence will start at 26 weeks and go up.”
Stan Sudworth, prosecuting, told the court that Nicholson was spotted stealing 12 packets of bacon, worth £20.40, from Asda in Hebburn on May 23.
Police were called and identified him from CCTV footage.
He added: “On June 9, someone was sitting in their car in Westoe Road, South Shields, and saw the defendant trying the handles of a number of cars in the street. Luckily, all were locked.
“The witness called police, who arrested Nicholson.”
The court heard that Nicholson has a problem with drugs and alcohol, but has recently cut his drinking from six litres of cider a day to three.
He was ordered to pay £20.40 compensation to Asda, an £80 victim surcharge and £85 costs.