A serial shoplifter with a ‘horrendous’ criminal record has been handed a last-ditch jail reprieve - after landed himself back in the dock over another store raid.
David Bell, who has 78 previous offences and was only released from prison in March, put his liberty back at risk after stealing two drinks worth £3.19 from Lifestyle Express, in Stanhope Road, South Shields.
But he narrowly avoided being locked up again after a district judge heard of his efforts to beat his alcohol and drug issues and turn away from a life of crime.
The 32-year-old admitted the shop theft - from Wednesday, April 13 - when he appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court.
Bell, of Titian Avenue, South Shields, was caught out after snatching a can of Kestrel lager and a can of Orangeboom from the store.
The court heard that Bell has 44 previous offences of theft alone on his lengthy rap sheet.
It is all down to you now.District Judge Sarah Griffiths
District Judge Sarah Griffiths initially refused to rule out another custodial term - but briefly stood the matter down to hear from the probation service.
She was told that Bell is progressing well on a post sentence supervision order with the probation service and is currently on a methodone script to help tackle his drug problems.
District Judge Griffiths agreed to defer Bell’s sentence - but warned him he could be locked up if he offends again in the meantime.
District Judge Griffiths said: “You have a horrendous record.
“You have 78 offences, 44 of them for theft.
“That is quite a record at your age.
“But I am going to defer sentence after hearing the positive report from probation.
“Well done, but keep up the good work.
“You need to stop offending altogether.
“To give you incentive, I will defer the sentence
“If you don’t comply with the probation service or commit further offences, in all probability you will be given custody.
“But if you stay out of trouble you will be dealt with far more leniently.
“It is all down to you now.”
Geoffrey Forrester, defending, said: “He has pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.
“He was interviewed by police in his frontroom and admitted the offence without having to be shown any CCTV.”
Bell will be back at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, September 27 for sentencing.