Cycle thief carrying pliers and a knife

Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

A man who was spotted in a back alley trying to steal a bike to fund his heroin habit has been given a suspended jail sentence.

Gavin Roberts, from Golborne, pleaded guilty to going equipped for theft after being found around the backs of houses carrying a large pair of pliers.

He accepted he shouldn’t have had the knife on him and apologised in interview

Roberts, of Bank Street, also admitted possessing a weapon after a Stanley knife was found in his pocket during the incident.

However, the suspended sentence was not enough to keep the 39-year-old out of jail as Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court heard he had been recalled to prison as he was on a licence period for a previously burglary when he tried to take the bike.

Prosecuting, Nicola Yeadon said police were called to reports of a man acting suspiciously in a back alley off Harvey Lane in the early hours of the morning on Sunday February 26.

Officers found Roberts standing at the back gate carrying the pair of snip pliers and arrested him.

On searching him they found the blade in his pocket, although he said used it when working as a plasterer and had simply forgotten it was there.

However, he admitted intending to steal a bike from one of the houses and said he was going to sell it to fund his drug addiction, which he told police cost him as much as £30 a day.

He was also tested for drugs and the results were positive, though the court was not told which substances were involved.

Mrs Yeadon said: “He accepted he shouldn’t have had the knife on him and apologised in interview.”

Defending, Melissa Fagan said Roberts took full responsibility for his actions and had suffered a recent lapse back into drug taking after a period of successfully battling his habit.

Ms Fagan said: “He has had a long-standing problem with drugs but had engaged with the community drug teams and received a prescription.

“Unfortunately, in early February he, in his own words, went off the rails a little bit as he was suffering bereavement issues and began to use illicit substances once more.

“He fully admits that on the evening in question he was trying to steal a pedal cycle to sell on to fund his addiction.

“The possession of the knife was a genuine mistake but he readily accepts he shouldn’t have had it on him and knows that forgetting it was there provides no defence.

“This was not a dangerous situation and there is no report of him behaving in a threatening or untoward manner.”

The magistrates gave him an eight-week prison sentence suspended for 12 months and also ordered him to pay a victim’s surcharge of £115. The bench also demanded the knife be destroyed.