Drug-addicted South Shields thief is spared jail, despite 40th conviction

David Bell, inset, stole from the Aldi store in Chichester Road.
David Bell, inset, stole from the Aldi store in Chichester Road.

A prolific petty shop thief from South Tyneside with more than 40 convictions to his name has escaped a jail term for his latest spate of offences.

David Bell, 31, appeared before borough magistrates to admit five new thefts from shop charges yesterday. All the offences took place at retail outlets in South Shields – many of which he has targeted in the past.

This defendant is ruinously addicted to drugs

Geoffrey Forrester

The court was told Bell, of Titian Avenue, South Shields, is an habitual offender who steals to feed a drug habit.

On May 22, he took three cans of deodorant from the Co-op in Dean Road, and on May 11 he stole two jars of hot chocolate from Right Price in Westoe Road.

Then on May 2, at Aldi in Chichester Road, he took joints of beef valued at £46.06 and, at the Co-op on April 29, he made off with cooked meat worth £30,32 after concealing items in his jacket.

Bell was tracked down after the thefts were captured on in-store CCTV footage, as was the case again on February 21 when he stole soap powder worth £9.98 from Best One in Dean Road.

Geoffrey Forrester, defending, said: “This is a defendant who is ruinously addicted to drugs to the point that he was recently rushed into hospital with deep vein thrombosis and was in hospital for three weeks. He appears before you again for low-value shop thefts and, with respect, I suggest no sophistication and no aggravating features.”

Bell was sentenced to a 15-week prison term, suspended for 12 months on requirement he takes a drug rehabilitation programme.

He has to pay criminal court costs of £150 and compensation of £46.17.