Serial thief with over 100 crimes walks free

Chesterfield magistrates' court.
Chesterfield magistrates' court.

A prolific offender with 131 previous convictions walked free from court with a conditional discharge after stealing two bottles of booze.

Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on Monday how Robert Morris, 49, of Spring Bank Road, Chesterfield, stole vodka and whiskey valued at £42.99 from a Morrisons’ store in March.

But magistrates took sympathy after defence solicitor Julie Page explained the defendant had just been released from a four-week custodial sentence for a separate shoplifting matter and attempts had been made during this previous sentencing to jointly deal with the booze thefts.

Prosecuting solicitor John Cooper said: “The defendant had left the Morrisons’ store and the alarm sounded and security staff came over and asked him to open his bag and the goods were recovered.

“The defendant said he had no money to pay for the items and was going to use them to clear up debts with his landlord. He said he was feeling low because of the loss of a family member.”

Mr Cooper revealed Morris has 131 previous convictions including 98 for theft, fraud and kindred offences.

Morris pleaded guilty to the theft of bottles of booze committed in March.

Defence solicitor Julie Page said when Morris appeared in court for the previous shoplifting matter he also admitted breaching a conditional discharge and volunteered facts about this latest Morrisons’ offence. She explained attempts had been made to deal with all matters at that time before he was jailed.

She added: “He accepts his record is unenviable but there has already been a custodial sentence. He was having financial difficulties and was subject to a Jobseekers’ Allowance sanction because he struggles with computers and doesn’t have good literacy which makes ticking the right boxes for applications difficult. At the time of the latest offence he had discovered his grandma had died and she had brought him up.”

Ms Page also explained Morris suffers with an underlying drug problem.

Magistrates sentenced Morris to a six-month conditional discharge but warned if he committed any offences during this period he would be re-sentenced for the Morrisons’ theft and any new offence. He was also ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £85 costs.