Serial shoplifter gets help to kick drug habit

ON METHADONE ... David Bell.
ON METHADONE ... David Bell.

A PROLIFIC thief has been urged to kick his drug habit after stealing more than £70 of goods from a South Tyneside supermarket – three days after being slapped with a court order for another shop raid.

David Bell was caught snatching items from Morrisons in Ocean Road, South Shields, at 1.20pm on Saturday, as well as being in possession of stolen goods.

The court heard the 29-year-old has an ongoing drug problem and is taking methadone and working with the Turning Point drug treatment team.

He had been given a three-month curfew last Wednesday, after taking a £9 bottle of sparkling wine from the One Stop Store in Whiteleas Way, South Shields, on November 4.

The 4pm to 4am curfew had been put in place as his last three shoplifting offences had taken place in the evening – but Bell’s latest theft came outside of the curfew hours.

Bell was handed a seven-month jail sentence in May, after raiding three South Shields shops while on a suspended prison sentence.

He stole almost £500 of cosmetics and razor blades from Boots in King Street, South Shields, in two separate visits, and took baby blankets and socks worth £42 from the British Home Stores branch in Waterloo Square.

When police arrested him for that theft, he also had two legs of lamb on him, stolen from Morrisons supermarket in Ocean Road.

Bell, of Titian Avenue, Whiteleas, South Shields, pleaded guilty to shop theft of items worth £73 and receiving stolen goods valued at £12 at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

Magistrates gave him a nine-month drug rehabilitation order with supervision and allowed the electronically tagged curfew, from 4pm to 4am each day, to continue.

Prosecuting, Frances Ralph said: “He was in Morrisons and was seen to take items. He left the store and is stopped and arrested, and fully admits what he did.

“He also had 13 phone sim cards on him. He accepted they were stolen but not by him. He said he did not know who they belonged to.”

David Forrester, defending, said: “He is on methadone and has an ongoing problem with drugs.

“He told me he had last taken heroin on Friday.

“He was in prison recently and we don’t want to get in a revolving door situation, where he goes into prison, coming out and then going back.”

After a probation report recommended a drug rehabilitation requirement, Mr Forrester called on magistrates to give Bell chance to address his issues.

Chairman of the magistrates, Sarah Harper, agreed to a nine-month drug rehabilitation order, which will include two drug tests per week and a probation appointment each week.

Bell was also ordered to pay a £60 victim surcharge.