Serial criminal with over 180 offences given 18-month ban from South Tyneside Next store

A serial criminal has been banned from a South Tyneside store after attempting to pinch over £200 of diffusers.

Reforming drug user Christopher Rutherford, 40, must not enter Next’s town centre outlet in Waterloo Place, South Shields, for 18 months – or face being imprisoned.

District Judge Zoe Passfield imposed the prohibition on Rutherford, of Hazlitt Avenue, Biddick Hall, at the behest of store bosses.

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In a statement to South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, they said he would consistently steal or attempt to steal – and abuse employees when foiled.

Christopher Rutherford.

For the attempted theft on Tuesday, July 12 - Rutherford’s 62nd conviction from over 180 offences – he was jailed for eight weeks, suspended for 18 months.

Judge Passfield said he was only being spared custody because he was doing well on a community order imposed for other offending.

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Rutherford pleaded guilty to attempted shop theft and to assault by beating of a staff member at Tesco’s store in Prince Edward Road, the Nook, on Friday, April 22.

Of the theft, prosecutor Elizabeth Winchester said: “He was in the Home department and attempted to steal goods but was seen by an off-duty police officer.

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“He had attempted to take 10 diffusers at £20 each and two diffusers at £22 each. He had also attempted to remove security tags from the goods.”In an impact statement, Next said Rutherford was “constantly in the store stealing or attempting to steal”.

The firm said he shouts at staff and threatens them, adding that it would like to see him “stopped from entering the store” by the court.

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Mrs Winchester said Rutherford assaulted a Tesco employee by barging into her when he entered the outlet despite being banned.

She said: “The employee was advised that the defendant had stolen a number of items. She reviewed CCTV and identified that individual.

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“On the same day, she noticed that the same defendant was outside the store.

“Knowing he was banned from the store, she asked him not to enter but he’s attempted to.

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“They collided with each other, that’s the matter of the assault.”

Jack Lovell, defending, said much of Rutherford’s offending was linked to drug misuse which he was rectifying as part of his community order.

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He said he had attempted the theft due to threats being made around an existing drugs debt but he was otherwise trying to reform.

Of the assault, he added: “He was outside the store and there was no suggestion that he was going to go in.

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“There was a bit of an argument and footage does show him coming through the door and bumping into her.”

For the attempted theft, Rutherford must pay a £154 victim surcharge and £85 court costs.

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He was handed an 18-month conditional discharge for the assault, with compensation of £50 to his victim.