Thief stole wine from South Shields garage in deliberate bid to get arrested

A thief deliberately got arrested by stealing a bottle of wine from a South Tyneside service station – and downing it in front of staff.

Pearse Kavanagh, 44, selected the chilled booze from the outlet opposite South Shields town hall – then stood in the aisle and drank half. After stepping onto the forecourt, he sank the remainder while waiting for police to arrive to arrest him at 7.40am on Sunday, November 13.

Borough magistrates heard he struck in the hope of being locked up to get out of the cold, having been forced out of his shared accommodation that day.

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Prosecutor Glenda Beck said: “The witness was working at the store when Mr Kavanagh entered and took a bottle of wine from a fridge. When asked to pay, he said, ‘No, call the police’. The witness locked the door to prevent Mr Kavanagh from leaving. He opened the bottle of wine and drank half while still refusing to pay. He tried to open the door.

The garage next to South Shiekds Town Hall.

“The witness opened the door and Mr Kavanagh left. He drank the remainder on the forecourt, and waited for police to attend. He was interviewed at Southwick police station in Sunderland and admitted that he had entered the store to take a bottle of wine.

“Mr Kavanagh said he had done so because he had left his property and wanted somewhere to stay. He told police that his drinking had got out of hand since the passing of his mother.”

Kavanagh, who was last before the courts in early November for causing criminal damage, pleaded guilty to theft. The court heard his sole previous theft offence was as a youth in 1992.

David Forrester, defending, said: “He has struggled with his mental health after the death of his mother. He has confirmed that he’s been drinking too much. The positive news is that he hasn’t had a drink for two weeks. He tells me that the weather was cold and wet, and he’d had an argument in the shared accommodation, and couldn’t go back.”

Magistrates sentenced Kavanagh to a 12-month conditional discharge, with £85 court costs and a £26 victim surcharge. They heard he claimed to have returned to the garage and paid for the £8.99 bottle.