Serial burglar hid in pub toilets before stealing booze after staff went home
A serial burglar hid in a pub toilet until the bar shut then helped himself to £200 of spirits.
David Kelly had been in the Ben Lomond in Jarrow when the staff got distracted by a "disorderly" customer so took the opportunity to run upstairs and lay low until after last orders.
Newcastle Crown Court heard the 39-year-old kept himself concealed until the staff closed up then took a chance to take alcohol from behind the bar.
He claimed he had been "inadvertently locked in the toilets" when the alarm activated and he was caught still inside.
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court Kelly had been in the town centre pub on October 15 last year and added: "Shortly before closing time the staff became involved in dealing with a customer who was behaving in a disorderly manner.
"While they were doing this, the defendant, who was present, ran upstairs into a private area of the premises and hid.
"The pub was closed with the defendant still inside.
"At around midnight the staff were notified of an alarm activation.
"He said he had been inadvertently locked in the toilets.
"The defendant had, in fact, stolen spirits valued at £200 from behind the bar."
The court heard Kelly had also opened the till but found no money had been left inside.
At the time of the offence, Kelly was released under investigation for a burglary at a house in Monkton Lane, Hebburn, last May, where an X Box, wallet and other property was taken.
Kelly used a bank card taken in the break-in to try and buy a bottle of Vodka from Morrison's in South Shields.
When the card payment was declined, he took the vodka anyway.
In January, Kelly took £655 worth of cosmetics from Superdrug in South Shields but was stopped by police outside who recognised him as being wanted on a warrant for the burglaries.
Kelly, of Northbourne Road, Jarrow, who has convictions for 158 previous offences, including house raids, admitted the house burglary, fraud and theft charges.
He denied burglary at the Ben Lomond but was convicted by magistrates at a trial in his absence.
Judge Tim Gittins jailed Kelly for a total of three years and two months.
The judge said Kelly had "hidden in the toilet for the purposes of staying behind after closing time".
Kelly, who appeared at the hearing via video, protested "they locked me in, they locked me in the pub", as the judge passed sentence.
Barry Robson, defending, said: "He was in the toilets, they weren't checked before the pub was closed up for the night."
Mr Robson said Kelly has a "deep rooted" problem with drugs, including heroin, but has had no professional assistance to try and help him rehabilitate.
Mr Robson said Kelly has now taken courses and been given help in custody, where he has "tried his level best".
Mr Robson added; "He has now identified he has to change course.
"He has done 17 or 18 years of his life in custody, with the various convictions."